Long-distance migratory birds that breed in the Arctic are experiencing alarming population declines due to climate change, habitat loss, illegal killing, and pollution. The numbers of some Arctic-breeding migratory birds have declined by 50-90 percent in the past 40 years. This issue was flagged as a major concern in the 2013 Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, which provided recommendations for the Arctic Council to work with partners to protect species along their entire migratory range. As the flyways of these migratory birds cross the globe, it is important to engage actors on a global level, not just around the Arctic.
The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) works to address key threats to Arctic-breeding migratory birds. The initiative is designed to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining seabird and shorebird populations, such as the thick-billed murre, ivory gull, spoon-billed sandpiper, bar-tailed godwit, red knot, great knot, dunlin, and others.
AMBI is coordinated by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group. AMBI works to leverage transboundary support and conserve priority species that are both underrepresented in global agreements and facing formidable conservation challenges. AMBI is an important initiative for the Arctic Council, in which, for the first time, specific actions to be taken outside of the Arctic have been identified to help conserve species that migrate to and from the Arctic.
With funding of EUR 100,000 from the Arctic Council Project Support Instrument (PSI), AMBI has developed a framework to implement actions in two flyways, allowing it to:
The Arctic Council Project Support Instrument (PSI) provided funding for preparatory actions in the Work Plans of two AMBI flyways, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) and the African-Eurasian Flyway (AFEU). This PSI funding enabled CAFF to improve the engagement and strategic planning necessary for AMBI to identify and implement priority actions as follows:
Improve conservation and management of shorebird sites throughout the African-Eurasian Flyway (AFEU Objective 1).
Increase quality and quantity of population status assessment data (AFEU Objective 2).
Development and dissemination of information and awareness materials addressing priority target (AFEU Objective 3).
Work with partners in the AEWA European Seaduck International Working Group to begin to reduce bycatch of seaducks in the Baltic Sea (AFEU Objective 4).
Support measures under the AEWA Lesser White-fronted Goose International Working Group to prevent illegal killing (AFEU Objective 5).
Identify and secure important breeding and staging habitats in the Arctic (Alaska and Russia) for priority species (EAAF Objective 1).
Secure intertidal and associated habitat for AMBI priority species at key staging and wintering sites in the flyway (EAAF Objective 2).
Prevent illegal hunting and regulate unsustainable legal harvest of Arctic migratory birds in the flyway, focusing on priority species (EAAF Objective 3).
Work with partners to increase the number and quality of population estimates in the flyway (EAAF Objective 4).
Address other threats to Arctic migratory birds along the flyway including initiating work on evaluating the effects of contaminants on Arctic-breeding migratory birds (EAAF Objective 5).
This project has led to another PSI-supported project, which is focused on the Circumpolar Flyway. The aim of the new project is to mitigate habitat degradation, focusing on the impact of plastic pollution on Arctic seabirds and seaducks. Read more at www.nefco.org/case-studies/plastic-pollution-project/ and www.caff.is/ambi.
Furthermore, CAFF has applied for additional funding to help implement actions in the East-Asian Australasian Flyway.
Tom Barry, Executive Secretary, CAFF
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council. CAFF’s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources. It does so through various monitoring, assessment, and expert group activities and by providing policy and management advice to the Arctic Council and its member states and organizations.
For more information, go to www.caff.is/ambi.
The Arctic Council Project Support Instrument (PSI) provides financing for priority pollution-mitigation projects approved by the Arctic Council. It is a voluntary, non-exclusive mechanism that can use a broad range of funding arrangements, including grants and revolving instruments, and is managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). The PSI is governed by the PSI Committee, which is composed of representatives of its contributors, currently from Finland, Iceland, NEFCO, Norway, the Russian Federation, the Saami Council, Sweden, and the United States.
For more information, go to www.nefco.org/psi.