The
Mammoth

+
[ Earth’s Old Friend ]

MAY PREHISTORY THUNDER FORWARD.

We have the DNA,the technology and the leading experts in the field. Next, we will have the Woolly Mammoth. Alive again.

Colossal Project 001
The Mammoth

EARTH’S OLD
FRIEND AND
NEW HERO.

Introduction

Colossal’s landmark de-extinction project will be the resurrection of the Woolly Mammoth - or more specifically a cold-resistant elephant with all of the core biological traits of the Woolly Mammoth. It will walk like a Woolly Mammoth, look like one, sound like one, but most importantly it will be able to inhabit the same ecosystem previously abandoned by the Mammoth’s extinction.

And this core value cannot be overstated:

The Woolly Mammoth is a vital defender of the earth.

VIDEO

Mammoth De-Extinction: Restoring The Past For A Better Future

Ending extinction to advance the genetic future of humankind and the health of the planet starts with thinking beyond what people think is impossible. See what we’re doing at Colossal Biosciences today to rewrite history tomorrow.

[ Mammoth De-Extinction: Restoring The Past For A Better Futurer ]
VIDEO 001

10 CORE
GOALS
FOR
REVIVING
THE
MAMMOTH

  • 01
    To decelerate melting of the arctic permafrost.
  • 02
    To prevent the emission of greenhouse gases trapped within the permafrost layer - up to 600 million tons of net carbon annually.
  • 03
    To revert now-overshrubbed forests back into natural arctic grasslands, which help with carbon emissions.
  • 04
    To restore the Mammoth Steppe.
  • 05
    To foster an ecosystem that can maintain its own defenses against climate change.
  • 06
    To understand the dominant traits among cold-resistant genomes.
  • 07
    To save modern elephants from extinction.
  • 08
    To establish a proven link between genetic sciences and climate change.
  • 09
    To equip nature with a resilience against humanity’s adverse effects on vital ecosystems.
  • 10
    To drive advancements in multiplex CRISPR editing.
 

BIOLOGY

MAMMUTHUS
PRIMIGENIUS

The Woolly Mammoth is a cold-resistant herbivore mammal. Meaning it’s a warm-blooded creature that can survive in freezing temperatures. It was large and slow moving, with short compact ears to prevent heat loss, insulated by two layers of thick fur to keep the blood warm, along by staying rather active and consistent with its migration and foraging activities.

Among large herbivore mammals, the Woolly Mammoth is primarily recognized by its two large inverted, curling tusks that it used to dig and locate food. Much like a tree, but with far greater detail, scientists can age Mammoths based on the number of rings present in a cross-section view of the tusks - even down to the number of weeks and days, and in what the weather was like when the animal died. In addition to the tusks, Mammoths had four massive molars employed in the mastication of the dense plant matter that comprised its diet. Throughout the life of a Mammoth, these molars would grow and be replaced up to six times.

Another unique feature of the Mammoth are big, soft clumps along the upper ridges of their back - similar in position to those of a camel, but not as large. These clumps however were filled with fat to help keep the animal both insulated and energized during long, frigid months in largely barren landscapes.

Surrogate Parents
DNA MATCHeS

“Parents” of the Cold
Resistant elephant

African Elephant
  • Colossal has decided to use African elephants as the surrogate parent. This is to eliminate any extra pressure on the Asian elephant population.
  • African elephants are considered a threatened species, while Asian elephants are classified as endangered.
  • African elephants are also larger than Asian elephants and will have less difficulty delivering an elephant hybrid.
  • Scientists will transfer a hybrid Asian-Woolly Mammoth embryo into a healthy African elephant surrogate.
Asian Elephant
  • The Asian elephant is the Woolly Mammoth’s closest living relative, and therefore has the most genes in common with it than any other living animal.
  • It is the largest living land animal in Asia.
  • Since 1986, the population has declined 50% over the last three generations - resulting in an “endangered” designation.
  • The genus Elephas, Asian elephant, originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the Pliocene period, and spread throughout Africa before expanding into the southern half of Asia.
  • Both the Woolly Mammoth and the Asian elephant existed at the same time on the same continent.
[ ELEPHANT CONSERVATION ]

REVIVING MAMMOTHS.
SAVING ELEPHANTS.

[ Conservation ]
ELEPHANT Species

It’s no secret that elephant populations around the globe are in danger.

AFRICAN FOREST ELEPHANT

Loxodonta cyclotis

[ Critically ENDANGERED ]

AFRICAN SAVANNA ELEPHANT

Loxodonta africana

[ ENDANGERED ]

ASIAN ELEPHANT

Elephas maximus

[ ENDANGERED ]
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Our research into resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth will help save them.

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And their preservation is vital because elephants are considered a keystone species. This designation signifies that elephants are prime contributors to maintaining the vitality and biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they inhabit.

Learn about our elephant
conservations efforts here +
[ QUOTE ]

“If you think about the most important headline of the 20th century, unquestionably it was humans landing on the moon. In the 21st century, bringing an extinct species back to life would hold similar weight in the history of humanity. It is hard to imagine a more profound project than the de-extinction of species once considered lost forever.”

+

Richard Garriott

2nd Generation Astronaut
Oceanic Explorer, Pioneering Computer & Video Game Entrepreneur
[Colossal Executive Advisory Board Member]

Habitat

ARCTIC +
TUNDRA

Greater biodiversity and healthier ice reserves provide evidence that the Earth was in a far better environmental state at the time of the Woolly Mammoth. Without human intervention, there was no artificial pollution, no land degradation resulting from a mass expansion of destructive agriculture practices, natural resources still in abundance, an absence of overhunting, overfishing, poaching and more.

A key factor was also the presence of a thriving Mammoth Steppe, comprised of flourishing arctic and tundra regions. These landscapes were vast and responsible for playing a balancing role in the planet’s overall state.

Habitat Scale
Size of Arctic

5.5 Million
SQUARE MILES

75% of EARTH’S FRESH WATER SUPPLY is housed in Arctic glaciers
21,000+ SPECIES live in the Arctic’s freezing temps
According to the Arctic Program Permafrost is currently storing
1,600
BILLION METRIC TONS OF CARBON

The Mammoth’s massive size, thunderous gait and vast migration patterns were active benefactors in preserving the health of the Arctic region. The Mammoth Steppe was once the world’s largest ecosystem - spanning from France to Canada and the Arctic Islands to China. It was home to millions of large herbivores. And these animals were key to protecting an ecosystem so vast, it affected, if not almost controlled, the climate.

THE
MAMMOTH
STEPPE

It has been estimated the total mass of plants and animals in Siberia’s tundra is now 100-fold less than when it was a steppe -- and other key arguments here

The loss of these large cold-tolerant Mammoths over the past 10,000 years has stripped this ecosystem of the grasslands that once efficiently absorbed carbon. Instead, there are mossy forests and wetlands, which aren’t as helpful with combating rising temperatures. However, if the Mammoth Steppe ecosystem could be revived, it could help in reversing the rapid warming of the climate and more pressingly, protect the arctic’s permafrost - one of the world’s largest carbon reservoirs.

Re-establishing an ecosystem filled with grasslands will help to create a cycle that prevents the thaw and release of stored greenhouse gases within the arctic permafrost. With cold-tolerant elephant mammoth hybrids grazing the grasslands and roaming comfortably during the winters, they scrape away layers of snow, so that the cold air can reach the soil. This also allows grasslands to thrive and since they’re lighter than forestry, the snow won’t melt as quickly. Making way for another benefit - a surface that reflects the Sun’s radiation.

+

The fundamental conclusion to be reached is quite simple: the Woolly Mammoth was a natural custodian of a healthier planet.

EXTINCTION

ONLY
4,000
SHORT
YEARS
AGO

We typically think of Mammoths as prehistoric creatures.

In reality, they lived all the way up until 1650 B.C. - a relatively short period of time in biological and geological terms. The evidence is clear that humans lived among Woolly Mammoths and considered them a big part of their subsistence and habitat. Most of this evidence comes from caves across today’s countries of England, Spain and France.

The most notable example of Mammoth and human interaction was found (and is still preserved) inside the Rouffignac cave, located in a mountainous area of southwestern France. Inside the cave, known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, are more than 250 paintings and depictions along the cave walls, etched into the stone by humans who called the cave home during the Middle Magdalenian, Mesolithic, Tardenoisian, Sauveterrian and Neolithic periods. Also found inside the cave are Mammoth bones and tusks fashioned into a number of uses including tools, art objects, furniture and burial items.

[ Artifact Samples ]
Inside the
Rouffignac
cave

Thus it is clear that humans and Mammoths lived amongst each other, and perhaps that humans relied on the Mammoth as part of their equation for survival. It is also quite clear, however, that humans (and Neanderthals) helped to bring out the eventual extinction of this important neighbor. There is evidence that humans harvested Mammoths as a source of protein, used their tusks for art and other luxuries, and employed their bones and tusks in the construction of dwelling structures. Given their massive size and slow reproductive rates many believe that human hunting was one of a few major causes of the Mammoth’s extinction.

Along with humans, natural climate changes caused a shrinking of the Mammoth’s available living habitat spaces. The animal was basically being geologically sequestered by the Earth, forced to live in tighter areas of land. This caused the genetic pool to shrink and problems related to inbreeding eventually began to occur. Eventually, the planet’s Mammoth population was reduced to two small communes of about 500 to 1,000 each - one on St. Paul Island just off the southwest coast of Alaska; the other Wrangel Island, off the northeast tip Russia. The Wrangel Island Mammoths existed up until about 4,000 years ago and disappeared quite suddenly, with evidence pointing to a human hunting expedition as the likely cause.

But not Gone Forever
But not Gone Forever

The Mammoth
Is Almost
Elephant

Evolution is a slow-moving beast. The changes in protein pairing of any specific genome take millennia after millenia to manifest. Thus, while the Woolly Mammoth is not currently stomping its way across the tundra, the animal’s code is in fact almost 100% still alive in today’s Asian elephants. Precisely, the two mammals share a 99.6% similar DNA makeup. While this may seem like a small number, it’s still an enormous challenge to overcome - more possible today than ever with modern genetic engineering knowledge and technology. And the scientists at Colossal are leading the globe in research and progress into bringing the Mammoth back - closing this .4% of genome similarity through the use of CRISPR genome editing.

[ Mammoth bone DNA Sample ]
Making it happen

So how did we find Mammoth DNA?

How do we know what to do?

The answers to these questions are quite simple, even though the science behind them is quite complex. Firstly, Mammoth remains have been preserved remarkably well, even across millennia. Thanks to its habitat in the permafrost, tundra and frozen steppe regions, many Mammoths who died never fully decayed - instead staying sealed in ice for later discovery. Thus the tissue samples collected contain intact DNA, undigested food in Mammoth stomachs, fur, tusks and more.

Therefore bringing the Woolly Mammoth back is not just a theory. It is a science that has been developed and mastered by George Church, Ph.D. and his lab. With a 99.6% genetic match in the Asian elephant, intact Mammoth DNA, and modern genetic engineering, the task is well underway.
Chief Science Officer
Co-Founder

GEORGE
CHURCH

The world’s leading Woolly Mammoth advocate and top genetic engineering scientist, especially regarding CRISPR - the mechanism that will ultimately lead to the first Woolly Mammoth back on Earth, in the last 4,000 years.

[ Timeline ]

RESTORING THE MAMMOTH: PAST TO PRESENT

+
Video
TED X DE-EXTINCTION

GENETIC RESCUE OF
ENDAGERED + EXTINCT SPECIES
[ revive & restore ]

+

Stewart Brand: The Dawn of De-Extinction. Are You Ready?

[ The dawn of de-extinction ]
VIDEO 002

Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar, the dodo, etc.

But now, Co-Founder of Revive & Restore Stewart Brand says we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.

+

Our Process:

DE-EXTINCTION OF THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH:
In the field & Lab

Bringing the Woolly Mammoth back marks the world’s first feasible approach to species restoration of an extinct animal - and is already well underway, under the guidance from George Church.
Eriona Hysolli
HEAD OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES at Colossal

For more information on the R&D behind the Woolly Mammoth :

Get Involved

[ QUOTE ]
+

"Bring back the Woolly Mammoth! Colossal will be the first company to use CRISPR technology to de-extinct previously lost species starting with the Mammoth. In the de-extinction process Colossal will build world-class software products for CRISPR and their breakthroughs will have major implications for biotechnology products, treatment of diseases, and genomics."

+

Tim Draper

Iconic Silicon Valley venture capital investor, founder of DFJ, Draper Associates and Draper Venture Network

/////////// PREVIOUS INVESTMENTS INCLUDE

ARCTIC
REWILDING

Our
radical
solution
to heal
the
Arctic

{ Permafrost melting in the arctic region }

For Earth
to survive,
permafrost must be permanent. +

Arctic permafrost has endured for more than 800,000 years. It’s freezing, compact, remote and seemingly uninhabitable. Yet in this hard, icy layer of Earth’s crust is the single greatest enemy of greenhouse gases. Because locked underneath is nearly a million years worth of carbon, heavy metals, methane and other gaseous elements that contribute to the warming of our planet. Preserving this precious, ancient landscape is thus vital to our existence. And a massive contributing factor to the current endangerment of permafrost is the loss of keystone species such as the Woolly Mammoth - who played an active role in compressing the surface and knocking down thin invasive trees to reveal arctic grasses that kept the layer alive and healthy. But today, the stability of the arctic is reaching a critical limit as the planet continues to heat up.

This is the driving force of
our efforts to rewild the
mammoth to its natural habitat.

Arctic permafrost has endured for more than 800,000 years. It’s freezing, compact, remote and seemingly uninhabitable. Yet in this hard, icy layer of Earth’s crust is the single greatest enemy of greenhouse gases. Because locked underneath is nearly a million years worth of carbon, heavy metals, methane and other gaseous elements that contribute to the warming of our planet. Preserving this precious, ancient landscape is thus vital to our existence. And a massive contributing factor to the current endangerment of permafrost is the loss of keystone species such as the Woolly Mammoth - who played an active role in compressing the surface and knocking down thin invasive trees to reveal arctic grasses that kept the layer alive and healthy. But today, the stability of the arctic is reaching a critical limit as the planet continues to heat up.

 

Arctic Tundra Temperatures

Accelerating
3x Over Average

65%

Loss of
Permafrost

By 2100

 
REWILDING
{ PERMAFROST SECTION }
2022

COLD
HARD
FACTS
+

The Global Effects of Permafrost Depletion:

01

Release of trapped carbon reserves

02

Displacement of 4 million people spanning 8 countries

03

Destruction of 7 out of the 10 world’s largest wilderness areas, consisting of over 21,000 different species

DIGGING DOWN TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH.

+

Recent studies have shown THAT tHERE IS

1.6 billion/MT of carbon locked in the permafrost

Along with carbon, extensive amounts of anthropogenic contamination consisting of heavy metals, by-products of fossil fuel combustion, chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT, organic pollutants, and nuclear waste also remain locked in the ice. The melting of the permafrost contains the potential to release hazards that are both known and unknown with the potential to categorically change all life on Earth.

[ PERMAFROST ]
+
 

66%

of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change signatories committed to nature-based solutions in their climate pledges.

These nature-based solutions involve improved land management and ecological restoration practices that aid in carbon sequestration. Colossal aims to catalyze this cause by aiding in the preservation and restoration of the permafrost through Arctic Rewilding of the Woolly Mammoth.

A ticking time bomb for our environment.

+

Permafrost: What Happens If We Do Nothing?

Arctic permafrost is a Pleistocene-age soil that remains completely frozen at 0°C. The Arctic permafrost formed during the Pleistocene era sometime between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago. Permafrost contains a significant amount of organic material with an ice content of 50-90% by volume.

Underneath the 8.8 million square miles of Arctic permafrost lies an estimated 1.6B metric tonnes of carbon trapped in the soil.

That is approximately ~40% of all terrestrial soil carbon found on planet Earth. These carbon stocks are heavily concentrated in the 4.6 hundred thousand square miles of Yedoma permafrost located in regions of Siberia and Alaska.

Variety: High Carbon

YEDOMA:
Permafrost soil

+

The trapped Arctic permafrost carbon is the result of gradual decay of plant, animal, and microbial biomass that has accumulated over almost countless years. The current stores of 1.6B metric tonnes of carbon equate to more than twice as much carbon now in our atmosphere.

Even more alarming is that 65-70% of the trapped carbon lies within the surface layer of the Arctic permafrost between 0-3 meters deep.

[ FIG.001 PERMAFROST DIAGRAM ]

 

PLEISTOCENE PARK

[ Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, Russia ]

Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, Russia Introducing animals in Pleistocene Park (114 / km2) has been proven to reduce soil temperatures at 90 cm depth by up to 8 °C in peer-reviwed scientific journals.

Arctic Rewilding Massively Reduces Ground Temperatures and Keeps the Permafrost Frozen

Learn More +
+

Due to Arctic amplification, the temperatures in the Arctic have increased 4x more than anywhere else globally in the last 40 years. These increased temperatures are causing the accelerating of the permafrost melting.

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MELTING PERMAFROST

The Arctic Permafrost is
Melting at an alarming rate

2%
change

100%
impact

If more than 2% of permafrost thaws, 28B tons of CO2 will be released.

The melting of the permafrost will result in the release of carbon dioxide and another powerful greenhouse gas: methane. As the permafrost begins to melt, microbes that have been solitary due to freezing conditions regain energy. As microbial activity increases, the plant and animal matter trapped in the soil starts going through the decay cycle. As the biomass trapped in the permafrost starts to change state, a tremendous amount of methane is released into the permafrost soil.

[ ARCTIC REWILDING ]

Environment
is
everything.

+
ELEMENTS

METHANE

{ the importance of methane > }
Formula: CH₄
Molar mass: 16.04 g/mol
IUPAC ID: Methane
Boiling point: -258.9°F (-161.6°C)
ChemSpider ID: 291
Density: 0.657 kg/m³
Classification: Alkane

25x more potent than
CO2 at trapping heat.

According to leading scientists, greenhouse gas emissions from the permafrost thaw could eventually match or even exceed the European Union Industrial emissions due to the sheer volume of decaying organic matter.

Read the
latest
research:

The Goal: Arctic Rewilding to Combat Climate Change

+
ARCTIC + HIGH CARBON AREAS

Arctic rewilding is the culmination of conservation and restoration efforts aimed at benefiting the preservation and stabilization of the Arctic. Arctic rewilding focuses on the protection of natural processes, wilderness areas, and all of those who inhabit, or are affected by the vast area. Colossal will help shape the Arctic ecosystem from a degraded landscape into a flourishing and fully restored landscape.

1.85 M km2

High Carbon Areas (0-2m Depth)

185 Gt C

Buffered 100 km from populated areas in the region High Carbon defined as > 68 kg/m2

With the reintroduction of a keystone species like the Woolly Mammoth, the mammoth steppe will once again host a wide and beneficial array of biodiversity.

Scientists have estimated that the thawing of the Arctic permafrost will result in 4.35 billion metric tons of carbon emissions per year over the next century. Arctic rewilding would reverse this process, as woolly mammoths and additional large herbivores work to radically restore and protect permafrost and the ecosystem as a whole.

Arctic rewilding efforts have already begun and show tremendous potential for the positive impact megafauna species have on the tundra. Pleistocene Park is an Arctic tundra grassland restoration project in northeastern Russia that has been successfully operating for the last 40 years. Pleistocene Park’s rewilding efforts promote climate cooling through a series of ecological effects, such as permafrost preservation, carbon sequestration, enhanced Albedo effect and reduced methane emissions.

+

PLEISTOCENE PARK

NORTHERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA

Sergey and Nikita Zimov of
Pleistocene Park have
successfully reintroduced:

YAKUTIAN HORSES
MUSK OX
YAKS
MOOSE
BISON
KALMYKIAN COWS
SHEEP
GOATS
REINDEER
BACTRIAN CAMELS
[ BISON ]

With the reintroduction of these herbivores to the Arctic tundra, the Zimov’s have modeled the positive impact these species have on the ecosystem. These Arctic species have helped in the restoration of the Arctic and provide a framework for the successful reintroduction of the final piece of the puzzle: the woolly mammoth.

+
[ BACTRIAN CAMELS ]
[ YAKUTIAN HORSES ]
+

Read what peer reviewed scientists are saying about permafrost.

peer reviewed articles

Born To Rewild

[ science.org ]

Rethinking Rewilding

[ sciencedirect.com ]

Pleistocene Arctic megafaunal ecological engineering as a natural climate solution?

[ royalsocietypublishing.org ]

Rewilding: Science, Practice, and Politics

[ annualreviews.org ]
 

The 5 Vital Factors
of Arctic Rewilding

MAMMOTH RETURN

WHY MUST THE MAMMOTH RETURN?

01

Increased
Carbon Sequestration

Woolly Mammoths (Arctic Elephants) will aid in changing the plant topology of the mammoth steppe, to resemble one that existed only 10,000 years ago, by knocking down trees and shrubs and making way for fast growing grasses and forbs. Fast growing grasses and forbs have deep, diffused roots, unlike the shallow roots of the tundra trees and shrubs. The deep roots of the tundra grasses and forbs have a greater efficiency for carbon uptake which results in enhanced carbon capture and storage.

02

Increased
Nutrient Cycling

Arctic Elephant hubs in the mammoth steppe result in increased nutrient cycling and productivity. Grazing and trampling increase accessibility to light and create gaps in the soil which serve as sites for seed germination and bud bursting. Seeds are dispersed through epizoochory and endozoochory. Urination and defecation fertilize the tundra vegetation.

03

Compacting
the Earth

Snow trampling by Arctic Elephants as they move and forage for food will result in a more compact snow layer. A compact snow layer reduces surface insulation from very low winter air temperatures, enabling colder and deeper winter soil freezing. With the reintroduction of Arctic Elephants into the Arctic tundra, the permafrost will have a colder annual soil temperature driven by enhanced winter freezing.

04

Enhanced
Albedo Effect

The grass and forb dominated ecosystem that the Arctic Elephants will enhance gives rise to a more reflective surface than the current shrub and forest dominated tundra. The snow will fall in a uniform layer and more surfaces will have exposed snow cover, resulting in an overall increased reflective surface that bounces sunlight back into space rather than absorbing it, allowing for cooler annual soil temperatures.

05

Increased
Evapotranspiration

A grass and forb dominated ecosystem results in increased evapotranspiration which promotes lower soil moisture and decreases waterlogging. Reduced waterlogging aids in stabilization of the permafrost by decreasing potential holes and maintaining consistent frozen soil composition.

Map of
potential future
Mammoth Hubs

[ NORTH SLOPE ALASKA ]
+

In collaboration with the Alaskan government as well as the arctic native corporations colossal will pick the best locations for rewilding based on a number of factors. However, since the primary cause of rewilding is combating climate change, the locations were first selected for being noted as areas in the permafrost which are keeping high carbon deposits locked into place under the frozen crust. An additional factor in determining placement of mammoth rewilding hubs is the avoidance of disturbance of other keystone species.

What Has Been Done So Far?

Arctic Conservation + Rewilding Timeline

+

Right >>>>

NASA Satellite Image of Arctic Clouds
1900s

Anthropogenic climate change begins to seriously threaten the globe. In a process of “polar amplification”, the Arctic is particularly vulnerable to rising atmospheric CO2 levels and increasing global average temperatures.

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Wilderness Act of 1964
1964

The US Wilderness Act is passed, setting 
a precedent for prioritization of future nature preservation. Its aim is to protect large areas of land of particular cultural, scientific, or natural interest having suffered minimal human impact.

Humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
1972

The Marine Mammal Commission is created. The commission seeks to support research, environmental monitoring, and international collaboration on policy and management strategies.

Sergey Zimov with Son Nikita
1980s

Russian geophysicist Sergey Zimov proposes to rewild a region of northeastern Siberia. The first grazing experiments are begun as Yakutian horses are reintroduced in 1988 around Chersky’s Northeast Science Station.

Arctic Landscape
1991

The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy is developed. Finland initiates a summit uniting the environment ministers of all eight Arctic countries which results in its establishment. Under the 1996 Ottawa Declaration, this coalition subsequently turned into the Arctic Council, today an intergovernmental forum facilitating the cooperation and coordination of the Arctic states and their indigenous communities. The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working group of the Arctic Council is established. One of the Arctic Council’s 6 working groups, it aims to focus on all dimensions of sustainable development.

The Rio de Janeiro UN Conference on Environment
1992

The Convention on Biological Diversity is ratified. A product of the Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, this multilateral treaty seeks to conserve and ensure the equitable use of biological diversity. The WWF’s Arctic Program is established. Its vision is to educate scientists, policy makers, and the public about Arctic environmental issues. It remains the only Arctic environmental NGO with observer status at the Arctic Council.

Polar Bear in the Great Arctic Reserve
1993

The Great Arctic Reserve is created in Russia. Spanning over 16,000 square miles within the Taimyr-Central Siberian tundra, it harbors polar bears, reindeer, Arctic foxes, snowy owls, belugas and walruses.

Satellite image of the Lena Delta
1995

The Lena Delta International Biological Station is opened in northeastern Russia. This station is to be used as a platform for environmental monitoring of Arctic ecosystems. A primary nesting spot for migratory birds, the Lena River Delta harbors a wealth of flora and fauna, providing an important vantage point for research.

Flower in Kytalyk Wildlife Reserve
1996

Russia’s Kytalyk Resource Reserve is established. A cooperative effort between the government and local Indigenous groups, the region is one of most important natural areas of the Eastern Palearctic biogeographical zone and includes both tundra-based ecosystems alongside swampy terrain of scientific and educational value.

Image of NWT protected territory
1997

Canada’s Northwest Territory Protected Areas Strategy is passed. A product of a meeting between the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada, the strategy aims to establish a network of protected areas. The Canadian government has committed to protecting 25% of its land and freshwater by 2025, vast swaths of which sit within the Arctic circle.

Map of Arctic regional tourism traffic
1998

An international plan for sustainable Arctic tourism is crafted. Arctic Council (including WWF)-spearheaded efforts culminate in a 2006 report laying forth resources, tools, and general guidelines for a Sustainable Model for Arctic Regional Tourism for tourism operators and other stakeholders. The term “Rewilding” is subsequently academically defined by American conservation biologists Soulé and Noss as a conservation method focusing on “cores, corridors, and carnivores”.

Bison in Edéhzhíe Protected Area
2003

The Dehcho First Nations and the Government of Canada withdraw almost 4,000 square miles of land from industrial development. Efforts building upon this subsequently culminate in the establishment in 2018 of the 5,000 square mile Edéhzhíe Protected Area, home to caribou, bison, wolverine, peregrine falcon among others.

Wild Koniks in a rewilding area of the Netherlands
2005

A controversial Nature commentary piece advocates for the ‘rewilding’ of North America. Rewilding is defined as the restoration of large wild vertebrates into North America, using as reference the end of the Pleistocene era, 12,000 years ago, when horses, camels, and American cheetahs roamed the Great Plains. On an annual basis since 2005, at least one academic article using rewilding to mean the return of Pleistocene megafauna has been published.

Salmon swimming in Bristol Bay, Alaska
2010

Bristol Bay in Alaska is removed from an offshore oil and gas leasing plan. In 2014, 52,000 square miles of Bristol Bay, which supplies 40% of American wild-caught seafood, are permanently removed from oil and gas exploration and drilling. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conceives of its Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) program. Focused on the arctic and boreal regions of Alaska and Western Canada, this decade-long field campaign is aimed at better understanding the areas vulnerability and patterns of resilience of primarily ecological, and secondarily social, systems in response to environmental changes.

Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise and crew
2012

Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign is launched. The campaign primarily aims to prevent oil drilling and unsustainable industrial fishing, as well as to establish a sanctuary in the Arctic high seas.

Map of the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment
2015

NASA launches its ABoVE program. Field observations are combined with satellite remote sensing data in order to dissect the complex interactions between the drivers of change (e.g. CO2 levels, precipitation, fossil fuel consumption), their resultant impacts on ecosystems (e.g. levels of biodiversity, fire frequency), how this affects the way ecosystems serve human populations, and the end results on social systems (e.g. infrastructure investment, wildfire prevention programs).

Greenpeace protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling
2016

The Obama administration implements a ban on any new drilling in the Arctic. The affected region spans federal waters off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Atlantic’s Beaufort Sea.

Shipping vessel in the Arctic
2017

PAME ensures safe and sustainable shipping in the Arctic. Working jointly with its Shipping Expert Group, initiatives include establishing the Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum to support the effective implementation of the IMO’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters.

Polar bears in the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area
2019

The Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area is placed under interim protection. Located off the northwest coast in Nunavut, it is part of a large permafrost region harboring biodiverse seabed communities. In parallel, Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area is also slated to be formally established as a marine conservation area. Harboring many polynyas, or small pockets of ice-encircled open water, the region is an important refuge for marine and avian species in the winter. The Canadian government is to collaborate with local Inuit communities in the conservation of these regions’ local biodiversity. Russia’s Dvina-Pinega Nature Reserve is established. A total of 1,100 square miles of Northern taiga or boreal forest are thus protected, harboring the last large range of pristine forests in Europe.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska
2019

Goldman Sachs stops funding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Additional large international corporations, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, will also cease to fund exploration in the area. Increasingly, sustainability trumps resource exploitation in international decision-making, hand in hand with a transition to renewable energy. PAME establishes a comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database. The database allows authorized users to track and analyze vessel traffic patterns, fuel use, and emissions, alongside other economic and environmental factors. PAME releases the first capsule hosting a GPS transmitter aimed at simulating the movement of marine litter throughout the ocean. The data is to buoy increasing awareness of Arctic marine litter.

Map of ArcNet
2020

WWF’s Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation (ArcNet) is established. Its aim is to help governments and Arctic marine stakeholders strengthen Arctic marine life and ecosystems in the face of anthropogenic pressures. Bear Islands are protected as a nature reserve by the Russian government. Also known as Medvezhyi Islands, these harbor the highest concentration of polar bear dens from the Taymyr Peninsula to Wrangel Island. The waters surrounding the islands harbor seals and are visited by beluga whales, walrus, and sea lions.

Orca whales swimming in Alaska
2020

Noise is found to impact marine wildlife. Whales sing, click and whistle to locate food, raise their calves and find mates, and noise pollution has been shown to affect whale populations. The US Army Corps of Engineers denies a permit for the development of Pebble Mine in Alaska. This marks an important milestone in the midst of ongoing efforts to protect Alaska’s oil-rich and environmentally vulnerable Bristol Bay.

Polar Bear mom protecting cubs in the arctic
2021

NASA launches Phase III of its ABoVE program, homing in on the synthesis and analysis of previously acquired data. Integrated modeling frameworks will be harnessed to predict social and ecological system trends, laying the foundation for the development of empirically based decision-making guidelines as regards environmental policy. WWF’s new Arctic Conservation Forecast Initiative is launched. Its aim is to better understand Arctic environmental and ecosystem change by fostering discussion among climatologists, oceanographers, and biologists, building off the projections of the most recent numerical climate models (i.e. the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6, or CMIP6).

Map of fishing region of the central Arctic
2021

The Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement is passed to prevent unregulated fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean’s high seas. Rewilding matures into a center-stage international priority. A joint report published by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) advocates for the rewilding and restoration of an area the size of China. In launching a “decade on ecosystem restoration”, UN calls for large-scale revival of nature across all ecosystems; as governments commit to restore nearly 4 million square miles of land by 2030, with similar goals for ocean restoration. The International Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean is passed, preventing fishing in the Arctic Ocean’s high seas for 16 years - signed by the US, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway, alongside Japan, China, South Korea, and the European Union.