Protected areas in polar regions – lessons from Antarctica

Theme 5. Other
Session Name 5.12 Connecting polar research, policy and stakeholders across scales - examples from Europe and beyond
Presentation Type Poster
Author(s) Peter Convey (British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom), Kevin A. Hughes (British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom)
Abstract text

The Antarctic Treaty area, located south of latitude 60oS, is governed by consensus through the Antarctic Treaty System, while biologically-related lower latitude sub-Antarctic islands fall under national sovereignty. Area protection, with the exception of large marine protected areas, is agreed through the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) can protect a range of values.  Of 72 ASPAs that have been created in the past 52 years, 76% included in their justification the protection of Antarctic terrestrial communities. However, the current ASPA network is far from representative of the region’s biodiversity. In general, ASPAs have been designated at locations close to research stations, with only five of the 29 Treaty Consultative Parties acting as proponents for over 80% of existing ASPAs. However, despite the rate of ASPA designation declining in the past decade, the situation is evolving. ASPAs are starting to be proposed by consortia of nations, increasingly at locations remote from research stations, and in response to climate change threats. Nations previously not involved in ASPA designation are becoming more involved in their management. Finally, recent work has shown that the logistical capacity exists to protect areas across all of the bioregions currently identified within the continent. While governance mechanisms are clearly different between the Arctic and Antarctica, the requirements of and challenges to robust and effective protection are often similar, and we suggest that better conservation outcomes will result through greater sharing of area protection expertise between the poles.