Beringia is the area of land that bridged the eastern and western hemispheres 12,000 years ago. Today, it encompasses the land and water bounded on the west by Russia’s Lena River; on the east by the Mackenzie River in Canada's Yukon; on the south by the Kamchatka Peninsula; and on the north by the Chukchi Sea. It is celebrated for its cultural, biological, and geological significance. WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper said, “It is welcome news to see governments come together and recognize the opportunity and value of bilateral conservation in this unique ecosystem. WCS’s ongoing work in this region has shown us that efforts that are cooperative and coordinated are the most effective and that nowhere is trans-boundary and cross-cultural collaboration needed more than in the rapidly changing Arctic.” To that end, WCS has been working with scientists, government agencies, indigenous groups, NGOs, educators, students and others from North America, the Russian Federation, and other nations to forge the relationships that will usher in a new era of cooperation in the region. Added WCS Beringia Program Director Martin Robards, “At a time when threats to biodiversity are rapidly evolving on a global scale, WCS’s Beringia program recognizes the critical need for mutual concern and understanding among nations if local, national and international conservation and indigenous food security goals are to be achieved in the Arctic.” WCS’s work in Beringia has included spearheading cooperative programs looking at: shipping traffic in formerly ice-covered waterways and how that traffic will affect marine life and the food security of local indigenous groups; the threat walruses face when they make landfall in the tens-of-thousands due to the loss of the ice platforms on which they rest; and the impacts of development on birds that come from around the world to nest and breed in the Arctic tundra. WCS sees the joint statement as a step toward a more unified approach to accomplishing shared goals of conservation and indigenous food security in a region warming at twice the global average, while at the same time, adjusting to a rapid influx of new development interests.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org.
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