Arctic Council Working Groups ACAP, AMAP, CAFF and PAME all met during the week of September 14-18, 2015 in Tromsø, Norway. To mark the occasion, we’re highlighting a series of projects from their portfolios. This article focuses on CAFF's landmark Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative.


The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI): protecting Arctic lifestyles and peoples through migratory bird conservation, is a Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) project designed to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining Arctic breeding migratory bird populations.

A key finding of the 2013 Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) was that “many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway.” As a result, the ABA recommended that the Arctic Council work to “reduce stressors on migratory species range-wide, including habitat degradation and overharvesting on wintering and staging areas and along flyways and other migration routes.” CAFF created the AMBI in 2015 to implement this recommendation. Co-led by the USA, Canada, Norway and Russia with involvement from BirdLife International and other key partners, work is organized along four major flyways (Americas, African-Eurasian, East Asian-Australasian and Circumpolar). Migratory bird conservation is truly a global conservation issue: migratory birds fly through Arctic and non-Arctic country boundaries. The AMBI is actively engaging with Arctic Council Observer countries to address the conservation of shared species.

“Unfortunately for the world, some Arctic-breeding migratory bird populations are plummeting,” says Reidar Hindrum, CAFF’s current Norwegian Chair. For example, the spoon-billed sandpiper, a shorebird that breeds in Russia and travels to Southeast Asia in the winter is now critically endangered with only a few hundred pairs remaining. “The AMBI is an important initiative because we are working across borders to help our shared species across their full range. This is the only way; effective management in one region can be undermined by harmful actions elsewhere. So to conserve these species we really need to act together and that is what the AMBI aims to do,” says Hindrum.

The initiative will report on implementation efforts to ministers at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in spring 2017.

Learn more about this project:


Image: Red knots congregate at a stop over site to rest and eat along their migration route. Some Red knots travel over 15,000 km from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America. Red knot populations have been decreasing substantially, making the Red knot a priority species for the AMBI. Photo: Morten Ekker