Assessing cumulative impacts in the Antarctic under the Environmental Protcol - a missed opportunity?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty 1991 establishes provisions for protecting the Antarctic continent and its dependent and associated ecosystems. Under the Protocol all proposed activities are subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to project approval. Consideration of cumulative (past, present and future) impacts is mandated under the Protocol for projects assessed at the higher levels of Initial and Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation only. The Antarctic Treaty System is challenged with developing a strategic approach for ensuring cumulative impacts are addressed at all levels of environmental assessment. Consideration of cumulative impacts in Environmental Impact Assessment has been minimal to date, attributed largely to inconsistent practices, inadequate exchange of information, the absence of structured assessment methodologies or just uncertainty amongst proponents and regulatory authorities regarding what to address. Nineteen Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations were reviewed and results generally indicated minimal consideration of cumulative impacts over and above a definition of the term in the environmental evaluation. This paper reviews the current regulatory provisions for assessing cumulative impacts in the Antarctic and discusses Environmental Impact Assessment, environmental monitoring, the protected area system and exchange of information as management tools to improve the assessment process. A framework is also proposed for usage in scoping cumulative impacts as part of a systematic approach to Environmental Impact Assessment for national and non-governmental operators.