Arctic wetlands store an enormous amount of global carbon, offer crucial support for global biodiversity, and provide important ecosystem services for Indigenous and other communities. They also constitute considerable parts of the Earths remaining wilderness areas. Yet with rapidly warming temperatures and a dynamic human footprint these ecosystems are changing fundamentally, bringing both Arctic peoples and ecosystems closer to potential tipping points.
Much remains to be learned about Arctic wetlands, yet quite a lot is known about their structure, processes and functions. Despite the availability of an extensive body of information and research, wetlands in the Arctic and elsewhere continue to be degraded and lost more rapidly than forests. These losses carry potentially dire consequences for benefits to people, including loss of direct water-based ecosystem services, continued decline of biodiversity, and positive climate feedbacks through carbon emissions caused by wetlands drying and degradation, especially peatlands.
The report provides 13 key findings and a suite of 20 policy recommendations designed to maintain and strengthen the resilience of wetlands, all aimed at policymakers attending the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting.
Researchers from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket), Stockholm University and CAFF, the Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group, led the work on the report and recommendations, published by the Arctic Council and CAFF.
The report was produced within the Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands initiative 2017-2021. Many of the findings and recommendations are highly relevant both within and outside the Arctic, and Arctic States have an unusually important opportunity to act as role models for the sustainable use of wetlands.
A document summarizing the report’s key findings and recommendations is also available.