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Protecting Our Arctic Biodiversity

Canadian Museum of Nature Comments on the U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership

The Canadian Museum of Nature welcomes the Prime Minister’s release of the Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership, issued March 10, 2016. As a member of the Government of Canada family, we are proud of our contributions to understanding and conserving Arctic biodiversity by informing science-based decision making.  Our researchers are on the front lines of Arctic science, documenting the effects of climate change on Arctic biodiversity. As Canada’s national natural history and natural sciences museum with a long history of Arctic exploration, our annual Arctic expeditions collect, catalogue and map Arctic biodiversity in both time and space.  This ensures that we have the baseline data we need as a nation to effectively understand, take action, and address climate change.

Since the seminal Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913, the Canadian Museum of Nature has developed and maintained a large collection of over 1 million natural history specimens from Canada’s Arctic, which has included working closely with Inuit communities in the region. We are also proud stewards of the paleontological, and now archeological, collections of the Government of Nunavut. As these specimens form a record of change over time, maintaining them in permanent research collections, such as those at the Museum, enables researchers and the public to learn about – and value – our natural world.

Building our baseline of biodiversity knowledge is an ongoing necessity.  Many existing protected areas in the Arctic are surprisingly poorly known and need to be understood in order to determine appropriate action that will realize the ambitious targets set in this Statement.  For example, the research of museum scientists has already identified biodiversity hotspots that the Pacific Gray Whale is dependent on.  As the Arctic ice remains open for longer periods, these hotspots will attract and support even more life, the implications of which need to be understood when making development decisions. 

We look forward to continuing to work closely with our government partners, national and international research institutions, as well as other Arctic stakeholders and communities to ensure we have the sound scientific basis necessary to guide action for protecting Arctic biodiversity.