My colleagues and I have gathered in Illulisat, Greenland--"the place of icebergs"--this week to finalize a circumpolar conservation plan for polar bears.

© Geoff York/Polar Bears International

8/31/2015 3:52:14 PM

The Place of Icebergs

By Geoff York, Senior Director of Conservation  

After 14 hours of continuous travel, I am finally on the final approach to Ilulissat, Greenland—completing my circle around the globe and spending time on the ground in each of the five range states where polar bear roam (U.S., Russia, Greenland, Norway, and Canada).

As the clouds part, a rocky landscape appears, filled with small lakes and surrounded by glacial ice. Ilulissat actually means the place of icebergs, and you can clearly see why as the community is encircled by an array of beautiful and massive icebergs.

Ilulissat is the third largest town in Greenland and borders the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that feeds the famous towering icebergs into Disko Bay and beyond.

It's a stunning setting for this week's Polar Bear Range States Meeting, which will bring together key leaders, managers, scientists, indigenous peoples, and other partners to discuss plans at the international level for conservation of this globally important species. The Range States are working to finalize an international conservation action plan to enhance the collaboration and coordination of both research and management actions for this highly mobile Arctic species.

I'm attending the meeting as an official delegate of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, which is charged with advising the Range States on science. Look for updates this week as we roll up our sleeves in Greenland and focus on polar bears.

For insights into modern life in the Arctic, watch this trailer for Village at the End of the World, a beautifully made documentary from the perspective of a young man caught between two worlds.

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