Sergei Donskoi: Arctic powers discuss polar bear conservation plans

Sergei Donskoi: Arctic powers discuss polar bear conservation plans

3 December 2015

Climate change threatens the polar bear population, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi told RIA Novosti.


Multi-year observations and the most recent satellite data confirm the loss of sea ice both in the Arctic seas of Siberia (the Kara, Laptev and East Siberian seas and part of Chukchi Sea up to the Bering Strait) and across the entire Arctic region during the summer season.  


The average ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean has decreased by more than 40 percent since the 1980s, mainly due to pack ice melting. “Scientists fear that by the middle of this century, if Arctic warming continues at this rate, Arctic sea ice may become seasonal like on the surface of non-Arctic seas,” the Minister said.


All this is taking its toll on the polar bear population. In 2008, Mr Donskoi recalled, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the polar bear as a vulnerable species. The latest research data suggests that polar bears in the wild could face extinction. Experts believe that the polar bear population may shrink by almost 30 percent over 45 years. This alarming prospect has prompted the Arctic powers to focus on national polar bear conservation plans. “In 2010, Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was the first among the countries of the polar bear home range to approve a polar bear conservation strategy and an action plan for the species’ conservation until 2020,” the minister stressed. He added that emphasis is being placed on creating and developing a network of specially protected natural areas.