WWF and National Geographic Teaming Up in “Last Ice Area” | WWF

WWF and National Geographic Teaming Up in “Last Ice Area”

Posted on
20 August 2015
WWF and the National Geographic Society are teaming up to draw global awareness to one of the most important parts of the Arctic: the “Last Ice Area.” This is the area above Canada’s Arctic Islands and northwest Greenland where summer sea ice is projected to last the longest. Since satellite monitoring began, the summer sea ice has been shrinking at a rate of about 12 percent per decade. If this trend continues, the summer sea ice could disappear almost completely within a generation.
 
Over the past four years, WWF has invested in the area to help support research and to engage with Inuit communities and local and national governments to determine how best to manage this vital part of the Arctic.
 
“This is a globally important area,” says WWF spokesperson Clive Tesar. “Animals such as narwhals, walruses and polar bears need sea ice to rest, feed and breed. The summer sea ice also supports a vast array of smaller animals and plants that underpin the survival of the larger animals. These animals are, in turn, very important to Inuit livelihoods and culture.”
 
The National Geographic Pristine Seas project, led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala, is working with WWF to bring attention to the threats facing the summer sea ice and to document how the Inuit culture is integrally connected to the area and its extraordinary wildlife. During an expedition to Qaanaaq, Greenland, one of the country’s most traditional Inuit villages, the Pristine Seas team filmed Arctic wildlife and Inuit traditions while recording local stories and views on the changing environment. The Pristine Seas team also recently completed a second expedition to Baffin Island in Canada’s high Arctic, where they encountered polar bears, narwhals and other endangered wildlife.
 
“We came close to Arctic wildlife and filmed them like never before, while also documenting the last traditional hunting by the Inuit,” says Sala. “But as the sea ice retreats, what we saw will likely change. We will explore these changes and ultimately how they will impact the local people and the critical environment upon which they rely.”
 
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