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Climate change seriously affects Arctic diversity: report

COPENHAGEN, May 28 — Climate change is the most far-reaching and significant stress factor on Arctic biodiversity, according to the newest Arctic biodiversity trends report issued here Thursday.

The Arctic Biodiversity Trend 2010 report, based on 22 indicators, was released by the Arctic Council's CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) at a Arctic Council's meeting. It presents a broad spectrum of changes in the Arctic ecosystem and biodiversity.

One of the major impacts of the changes is the potential extinction of the ice bear. The rapid loss of sea ice due to global warming means that the natural habitats of the predator are rapidly dwindling.

The report is a contribution to the United Nations' International Year of Biodiversity. In 2008, the UN Environment Program passed a resolution expressing "extreme concern" over the impacts of climate change on Arctic indigenous peoples, other communities, and biodiversity. It highlighted the potentially significant consequences of changes in the Arctic.

The report indicates that some of those anticipated climate impacts are already occurring. The changes are creating both challenges and opportunities for Arctic peoples.

The Arctic Council's meeting was attended by the deputy ministers of the members of the Arctic Council, which include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States. Denmark is holding the chair of the Arctic Council till 2011.

Denmark considers climate change as one of its key concerns during its chairmanship of the Council. "Climate change and the increase in activities in the Arctic have resulted in new challenges to Arctic biodiversity and the sustainable use of the Arctic's living resources." said the official Danish agenda.

Leading Arctic scientists are currently engaged in making a full and comprehensive Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), which is expected to be completed in 2013.

The Arctic Council was established by the Ottawa Declaration of 1996. It is a high-level intergovernmental forum which provides means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic countries. Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants are also involved in efforts to address common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China are interested in participating in the future activities of the Arctic Council. (PNA/Xinhua)

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