Evaluation of Arctic Biodiversity - Status and trends for species in the Arctic

Greenland's biodiversity (animals and plants) is an essential element of the population's livelihoods, and biodiversity is therefore irreplaceable culturally, economically and biologically.

The Arctic is home to more than 21,000 known species of cold-adapted mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, plants and fungi, including lichen as well as tens of thousands of species of microbes. These include iconic species such as polar bears, musk ox, Greenland right whale, narwhal, walrus, reindeer, arctic char, ivory gull, arctic fox, snow owl, and thousands of lesser known species. In addition to those species, the Arctic also has a diversity of habitats, marine, freshwater as well as habitats on land, such as expansive tundra, wetlands, mountains, large banks in shallow waters, millennial glaciers, pack ice and large colonies of birds along the mountainous coasts.

Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) started in 2013 and aims to summarize and evaluate the status and trends regarding biodiversity in the Arctic. It charts the current status and historical trends for the size and extent of the Arctic species, and, where possible, forecasts for future changes. It provides an urgent description of the state of Arctic biodiversity.


• Determines a benchmark for use in global and regional assessments of Arctic biodiversity that will characterize and guide future work in the Arctic Council.

• Collects updated knowledge from scientific publications, supplemented by indigenous peoples’ insights.

• Identifies knowledge and data gaps.

• Describes the key mechanisms that cause changes.

• Presents scientifically-based proposals for dealing with the greatest challenges facing arctic biodiversity.

The Ministry of Nature and Environment is responsible for the dissemination of the results of the ABA as well as a follow-up to the 17 political recommendations from the ABA synthesis document to decision makers.

Read more about ABA: Scientific summary for the ABA and ABA Synthesis documents for decision makers.


What is biodiversity?

The United Nations Biodiversity Convention (CBD) defines biodiversity as "the variation of living organisms from all sources, including ecosystems by land and water as well as the ecological contexts they are part of; This includes diversity within the individual species, between different species and in ecosystems. "Biodiversity includes the vast amount of relatively unknown species, which there are many of in the Arctic, that together form the basis of food chains and ecosystems. The interaction between people and their surroundings is also an aspect of the diversity, vitality and sustainability of life on Earth.