Long-term observations based on the best available traditional and scientific knowledge are required to identify changes in biodiversity, assess the implications of observed changes, and develop adaptation strategies.

Significant difficulties were encountered in preparing this report because most countries do not have internal long-term biodiversity monitoring programs. Where such programs do exist, the data collected is not consistent across the circumpolar region.

In a few cases where coordinated monitoring efforts have a long history (e.g., seabirds), trend information is reliable and conservation strategies based on the results of monitoring have been successful. The 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment recognized that long-term monitoring would greatly help detecting early warning signals and development of adaptation strategies.

Generations of biodiversity knowledge and its uses are contained in traditional Arctic languages, but many of these languages are facing an uncertain future. Twenty Arctic languages have become extinct since the 1800s, and ten of these extinctions have taken place after 1990 indicating that the rate of loss is increasing. Their loss represents not only a loss of culture but also a loss of historical biodiversity knowledge.

The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, which encompasses scientific, traditional ecological knowledge, and community-based monitoring approaches, is being implemented by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group of the Arctic Council, to address these urgent needs for monitoring