A conceptual approach to climate change and ecosystem management in Antarctica
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Since the beginning of Antarctic exploration measures have been progressively implemented as attempts to protect the Antarctic environment from human induced disturbances. Historically these disturbances were of a scale that they could be managed via regulations over fixed spatial areas. Present methods for delineating boundaries for ecosystem protection, under the ATS do not account for the natural migration and variation of ecosystems. Areas where changes occur rapidly, such as ice shelves, clearly illustrate the limitations of the fixed aerial projection approach. Ecosystem management in Antarctica cannot be undertaken as a uniform approach. It needs to be informed by the spatial and temporal scales, and physical attributes of the ecosystems concerned. Strategies should be derived from both the natural and cultural context of Antarctica. We propose that ecosystem management principles could be derived from any number of cartographic principles including longitude, latitude, network and elevational projections. In addition, acceptance and recognition of dynamic natural edges is also key to effective management. Managing human activity as part of the ecosystem is not separate to strategies such as the temporal sequencing of visitation, minimising introduction of competitor species, localised physical interventions and cultural engagement will all be important. Integrating management across marine and terrestrial environments is also at the core of the issue. The division between the administration of management in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, whilst logistically easier to apply, does not assist in the development of an integrated and creative approach to ecosystem management. Currently the issue of consensus decision-making that underpins the ATS limits the potential for future innovations in this area. Should climate continue to change as predicted, the present system will need to be modified for the purpose of protected areas to be realised. This report provides a stepping of point for that creative process when the environmental and political incentives to change become unavoidable.
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