Define categories of essential polar bear habitat and compile existing information to generate an inventory of essential habitat by the categories (and identify gaps in existing information)

 

Summary of the Action:
Essential habitat is the area required to a species’ key life functions. Some examples of essential habitat for polar bears may include foraging grounds, denning sites, movement corridors, and areas used for mating and rearing cubs. The protection of essential habitat is vitally important for the long-term conservation of polar bears.

In order to protect essential habitat, it is important to define exactly what it is, and create an inventory of where it exists (including identification of any gaps in existing information). This will be accomplished by developing definitions of essential habitat used by polar bears throughout the circumpolar arctic, and creating an inventory of existing information on essential polar bear habitat by categories, based on the definitions of essential habitat. This inventory will help identify which categories of essential habitat tracking and monitoring should focus on, given finite resource availability. Finally, a document detailing the appropriate methods and frequency for tracking changes in essential polar bear habitat caused by climate change will be produced. This work will be done in close cooperation with the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group.

Action Leads: 
Lauren Schmuck (Environment and Climate Change Canada, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Jesper Ødegård Jacobsen (Greenland Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Participants:
Nick Lunn (PBSG co-chair)
Dag Vongraven (PBSG co-chair)

Duration of action:
October 2020 – September 2022

Deliverables (output):
D1: Definition of categories of essential polar bear habitat (compiled by PBSG)

  • October 2020 – September 2021

D2: Document inventorying existing information on essential polar bear habitat by categories, based on D1 (compiled by PBSG)

  • October 2020 – September 2021

D3: Identification of which particular categories of essential habitat tracking/monitoring should focus on, based on D2 and resource availability (completed by the PBRS)

  • October 2021 – March 2022

D4: Document detailing the appropriate methods and frequency for tracking changes in essential habitat (completed by PBSG)

  • October 2021 – September 2022


Impact (outcome):
This Action will contribute the Objective, Goal and Vision of the CAP by defining categories of essential polar bear habitat, and creating an inventory of essential habitat by the categories (and identify gaps in existing information). This will help to address the threat that climate change poses to essential sea ice habitat.

The circumpolar objective is that essential habitat will be consistently described and tracked over time, and that there will be a better understanding/more clarity of essential habitat at the circumpolar level.

 

Dissemination:
A document inventorying existing information on essential polar bear habitat by categories, and other deliverables, will be posted on the Polar Bear Range States.