Anders Nielsen

Head of Department/Head of Research

(+47) 913 50 435
anders.nielsen@nibio.no

Place
Ås R9

Visiting address
Raveien 9, 1430 Ås

Abstract

Background: Canada is the only nation in the world that allows commercial export of polar bear products harvested from its own wild populations. Norway is among the destinations for exported material. Polar bears are listed on CITES appendix II and on list B of the Norwegian CITES Regulation. Import of harvested polar bears to Norway requires both export permits from the Canadian CITES authorities and import permits from the Norwegian Environment Agency. Consequently, a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) is mandated and was commissioned by the Norwegian Environment Agency (Norwegian Management Authority) to the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) (Norway’s CITES Scientific Authority). The NDF is a scientific risk assessment evaluating whether or not international trade can be detrimental to the survival of polar bears. The risk assessment may also be used by the Norwegian Environment Agency to assess whether the polar bears should be placed on Norwegian CITES list A. Currently, the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) recognizes 19 subpopulations of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic, of which 13 reside wholly (9) or partly (4) in Canada. Together, these 13 populations account for about two thirds of the world’s total polar bear population. This risk assessment considers the populations that are within the hunting areas. Methods: VKM has reviewed current knowledge about polar bear biological characteristics, population status and trends in subpopulations. Scenarios for the future development of the Arctic environment, to which the species is inextricably adapted, are presented. Habitat loss due to declining sea ice is widely recognized as the main threat to polar bears, and this, as well as other obstacles to the species survival, has been evaluated. The various legislations, regulations and monitoring regimes of the range countries are briefly summarised. Moreover, international trade in polar bear products has been analysed. VKM has further undertaken an assessment of data quality and uncertainties. In order to gain access to the most recent information on polar bear biology and management, four scientists from the PBSG were interviewed and the transcripts of the interviews (with consent from the hearing experts) are attached to this report. Results: The best scientific knowledge available for polar bears in Canada suggests that four subpopulations are in decline, two are stable, and one is increasing, while the population trends for the remaining subpopulations are unknown. Noteworthy, all the estimates of population size are highly uncertain. Survey methods also changed between the 2008 and 2018 population estimates used for quota setting. Moreover, data are in most areas collected too infrequently to detect rapid changes in population size. Particularly, under changing environmental conditions. The prognosis for the Arctic marine environment points towards continuing habitat loss and inevitably further decline for the polar bear population.Key words: Ursus maritimus, CITES, polar bear, Non-Detriment Finding, Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment, Norwegian Environment Agency, VKM

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Abstract

Global economic value of agriculture production resulting from animal pollination services has been estimated to be $235–$577 billion. This estimate is based on quantification of crops that are available at the global markets, and mainly originates from countries with precise information about quantities of agriculture production, exports, and imports. In contrast, knowledge about the contribution of pollinators to household food and income in small-scale farming at local and regional scales is still lacking, especially for developing countries where the availability of agricultural statistics is limited. Although the global decline in pollinator diversity and abundance has received much attention, relatively little effort has been directed towards understanding the role of pollinators in small-scale farming systems, which feed a substantial part of the world’s population. Here, we have assessed how local farmers in northern Tanzania depend on insect-pollinated crops for household food and income, and to what extent farmers are aware of the importance of insect pollinators and how they can conserve them. Our results show that local farmers in northern Tanzania derived their food and income from a wide range of crop plants, and that 67% of these crops depend on animal pollination to a moderate to essential degree. We also found that watermelon—for which pollination by insects is essential for yield—on average contributed nearly 25% of household income, and that watermelons were grown by 63% of the farmers. Our findings indicate that local farmers can increase their yields from animal pollinated crops by adopting more pollinator-friendly farming practices. Yet, we found that local farmers’ awareness of pollinators, and the ecosystem service they provide, was extremely low, and intentional actions to conserve or manage them were generally lacking. We therefore urge agriculture authorities in Tanzania to act to ensure that local farmers become aware of insect pollinators and their important role in agriculture production.

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Agricultural practices to improve yields in small‐scale farms in Africa usually focus on improving growing conditions for the crops by applying fertilizers, irrigation, and/or pesticides. This may, however, have limited effect on yield if the availability of effective pollinators is too low. In this study, we established an experiment to test whether soil fertility, soil moisture, and/or pollination was limiting watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) yields in Northern Tanzania. We subjected the experimental field to common farming practices while we treated selected plants with extrafertilizer applications, increased irrigation and/or extra pollination in a three‐way factorial experiment. One week before harvest, we assessed yield from each plant, quantified as the number of mature fruits and their weights. We also assessed fruit shape since this may affect the market price. For the first fruit ripening on each plant, we also assessed sugar content (brix) and flesh color as measures of fruit quality for human consumption. Extra pollination significantly increased the probability of a plant producing a second fruit of a size the farmer could sell at the market, and also the fruit sugar content, whereas additional fertilizer applications or increased irrigation did not improve yields. In addition, we did not find significant effects of increased fertilizer or watering on fruit sugar, weight, or color. We concluded that, insufficient pollination is limiting watermelon yields in our experiment and we suggest that this may be a common situation in sub‐Saharan Africa. It is therefore critically important that small‐scale farmers understand the role of pollinators and understand their importance for agricultural production. Agricultural policies to improve yields in developing countries should therefore also include measures to improve pollination services by giving education and advisory services to farmers on how to develop pollinator‐friendly habitats in agricultural landscapes.

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Abstract

In Norway domestic sheep are mostly kept on mountain pastures over summer. Previous studies have shown that climate conditions affect the growth of mountain grazing lambs in contrasting ways. We analysed a data-set from the Tjøtta Research farm in northern Norway comprising weights and growth of 8696 lambs over 17 years. The lambs grazed coastal or a mountain pasture, 15 km apart. We found that the lambs grew faster when grazing the mountain pasture. Spring and integrated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) affected only the lambs grazing in the mountains. Winter conditions (North Atlantic Oscillation) and summer temperature had a positive effect on growth in both pastures while spring temperature and spring NDVI were important only in the mountains. The positive effect of spring NDVI suggests that the mountain pasture will produce bigger lambs under future climate warming, while the lambs on the coastal pasture will be less affected.