An analysis of conservation and management tools for Antarctica’s terrestrial ecosystems

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Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
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Pepperall, Neree

The value within the terrestrial ecosystems of Antarctica and the management and conservation implemented is a pressing topic as the intensifying human footprint makes consideration of this issue more urgent. Investigation of the Protected Areas system of the Antarctic Treaty demonstrates that microbial habitats are poorly protected. There is no other region on Earth that is dominated to a similar extent by microbial life. This presents an opportunity to develop and integrate new mechanisms of conservation and management of terrestrial biota on a continental scale.

This account examines the reliability of tools of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), including the Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs), and the Antarctic Conservation Biogeographic Regions (ACBRs) and highlights possible threats to Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. Analysis of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty Database (ATS, 2019) showed that of the 73 ASPAs only 7 were created specifically for the management and protection of the terrestrial ecosystem, 27 ASPAs were created with terrestrial ecosystem values as a part of their management plans and 38 did not list terrestrial ecosystem values within their management plans at all.

The study demonstrates that there is scope to enhance the management and protection of Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems and these improvements must be considered urgently and implemented before ecosystem disturbance is irreversible.

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