Irish geologist working on Arctic affairs in Akureyri
Tom Barry moved to Iceland from Ireland twenty years ago. For the past fourteen years, he has been the Executive Secretary of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group, which is part of the Arctic Council and focuses on the conservation of biodiversity in the Arctic.
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 as a forum for cooperation on sustainable development in the Arctic, with active participation from indigenous peoples in the region. The council consists of eight member states: the United States, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
Emphasis on the flora and fauna of the Arctic
CAFF is one of the two working groups of the Arctic Council based in Iceland. Akureyri, apart from Norway, is the largest hub for policy-making and scientific research concerning Arctic issues. The role of CAFF is to work on the conservation of flora and fauna in the Arctic, communicate its findings to governments and residents of the region, and contribute to sustainability. CAFF conducts assessments on observed changes and provides advice on management and policy for Arctic states and indigenous organizations. "With the network of scientists and policymakers that CAFF consists of, we provide information and recommendations that are useful for decision-making regarding the changes occurring in Arctic ecosystems," says Tom.
CAFF, along with other Arctic organizations, is located in the Borgir research centre at the University of Akureyri. The Arctic Council has a distributed structure and has offices in Norway, Canada, and Iceland. The CAFF working group employs 11 staff members distributed worldwide, including South America, Canada, and the United States. Additionally, numerous scientists from around the world collaborate with CAFF.
Role of Iceland
Iceland holds a permanent seat on the CAFF board and has been particularly involved in monitoring biological diversity. The monitoring program is divided into four components: marine, freshwater, coastal, and terrestrial. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History leads Iceland's involvement in this program, with other institutions, such as the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, also participating. Iceland, along with Sweden, also leads a project on habitat restoration, which is considered a priority in Iceland.
Iceland reminiscent of Ireland
Tom's background is originally in archaeology and geography, and he recently graduated with a doctorate in environmental and resource management from the University of Iceland. He emphasizes the importance of having good interpersonal skills and the ability to work with people of different backgrounds and perspectives in this field. Tom notes that Iceland and Ireland have many similarities, and he enjoys living in Iceland with his Icelandic wife and two children. His dog, Tinna, often accompanies him to work.
"With the network of scientists and policymakers that CAFF consists of, we provide information and recommendations that are useful for decision-making regarding the changes occurring in Arctic ecosystems."