How we work
© Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Arctic communities

WWF works with communities throughout the Arctic to help them deal with the effects of climate change, support research, and bring northern stories to a global audience.

Why it matters

Nowhere on Earth are the immediate effects of climate change felt so intensely. New economic opportunities are coming to the Arctic as oil and gas, shipping, and tourism, while melting permafrost and changes to the patterns of game animals are changing the face of life in the north.

people live in the Arctic, about half of them in Russia.
of the Arctic's population are Indigenous, according to the Arctic Council.


© Global Warming Images / WWF
Valuing knowledge

Knowledge comes from many places. In the Arctic, we speak of our work as being “knowledge-based” rather than solely “science-based”. Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have a store of ecological knowledge based on their own observations of the environment, and on information handed down over generations.

WWF encourages the use of this traditional ecological knowledge to inform management policies in the Arctic. We have supported several projects that collect this form of knowledge, helping to provide a more rounded knowledge base.

For thousands of years, Arctic Indigenous peoples have hunted animals for food, clothing, and other essential uses. Hunting is still part of the cultural identity of many northern peoples, and for some, still an essential part of their livelihoods. People still hunt because other foods available to people in northern communities are often less healthy than traditional foods, and too expensive for people to buy.

Learn more

© Staffan Widstrand / WWF

How we work

Addressing human-wildlife conflict

WWF's global work to reduce human-wildlife conflict is based in our Netherlands office.

Addressing offshore drilling

For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.

Collaborating with Arctic Peoples in Russia

WWF cooperates with Indigenous Peoples associations and communities to protect the Russian Arctic. In all of our Arctic work, WWF incorporates Indigenous knowledge and expertise.

Getting a new look at bowheads

WWF supported a project to collect rare drone footage of bowhead, one of Canada’s largest and longest-lived marine mammals.

Planning a future for the Last Ice Area

WWF is looking at the future management of the "Last Ice Area", the place where summer sea ice is projected to persist longest.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Canada

In the community of Arviat, WWF supports a polar bear patrol and pilot projects with food storage containers, solar-powered electric fencing and diversionary feeding stations.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Greenland

Since 2015, Greenland’s first polar bear patrol has worked through the polar bear migration season to keep the community of Ittoqqortoormiit safe. Each morning the polar team patrols the community on ATVs, using deterrence measures to frighten bears away. WWF also guides the community and government on improving polar bear safety.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Russia

Since 2006, polar bear patrols have been operating with the support of WWF-Russia. The patrols conduct polar bear monitoring and research; and protect villages from polar bears and prevent human - wildlife conflict.

Promoting renewable energy

WWF is advocating for renewable energy, and piloting renewable solutions with some Arctic communities.

Promoting sustainable quotas

In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.

Protecting America's fishbasket

WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.

Protecting polar bears across borders

WWF addresses conservation of polar bears at the local, national, and international levels. We support community initiatives such as polar bear patrols and contribute to planning and implementing range-wide conservation plans.

Reducing polar bear conflict in Alaska

Along the northern coast of Alaska, WWF supports several active polar bear patrols and education programs.

Reducing polar bear conflict on Svalbard,Norway

Svalbard is a hotspot for polar bear tourism - and conflict. The local government is working with organizations like WWF, scientists and the tourist sector to find the best methods for managing conflict.

Supporting local voices on caribou in Canada

Working with northern communities in the Arctic by providing resources and expertise to ensure that community viewpoints on conservation issues are heard in decision-making processes impacting caribou habitat.

Supporting reindeer herders

WWF is working with Saami to explore ways of reducing future cumulative impacts of different pressures (like mining, wind power, forestry, tourism and large carnivores) on reindeer herding in Sweden.

Teaching the next generation

WWF works with Students on Ice to provide high school students a first hand experience of the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

Understanding narwhals

WWF supports a multi-partner research project with local Inuit communities, fitting satellite radio-transmitters to narwhals to investigate seasonal movements, key staging and wintering habitats, dive depths and diets.

Working with fisheries in Russia

WWF works with Arctic fisheries and fishery management units in the Barents, Bering and Okhotsk seas to promote and support their MSC certification, encourage policy and innovation to introduce ecosystem based management, reduce IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing practices, and to reduce the collateral damage of fisheries bycatch and protect vulnerable bottom habitats.


The Circle 01.2022
The Circle 01.2022
17 January 2022
The Circle 03.21
The Circle 03.21
30 September 2021
The Circle 02.21
The Circle 02.21
21 June 2021
ArcNet Technical Report
ArcNet Technical Report
11 May 2021
The Circle 01.21
The Circle 01.21
8 April 2021
Left out in the cold: COVID-19 green stimulus and jobs in the Arctic
Left out in the cold: COVID-19 green stimulus and jobs in the Arctic
27 January 2021
See all 39 publications

Meet the team


Senior Specialist, Arctic Fisheries


Advisor, Nature Conservation – WWF Netherlands


Specialist, Eastern Arctic


Advisor, Environmental Law


Senior Program Officer, Arctic Wildlife


Specialist, Renewable Energy, Arctic

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Director, WWF Arctic Programme