The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators have commenced a collaborative project to develop a systematic conservation plan (SCP) for the Antarctic Peninsula, aimed at informing the Antarctic community on how to optimally manage biodiversity, science and tourism together in the region, and contribute to the sustainable management of IAATO activities into the future. A Liaison Group is being formed for the project to provide advice, input and data to the SCP. Stakeholder engagement will form a crucial part of the process. Interested SCAR scientists are asked to contact the SCAR secretariat (see details below).
As human activity grows across Antarctica and as environmental change becomes more pronounced, we must determine how to best conserve Antarctica’s unique biodiversity and environments. The Antarctic Peninsula, home to much of the continent’s biodiversity, has a comparatively mild climate and close proximity to South America, making it the most visited region of Antarctica for both science and tourism. Improving the management of human activity in the region is a key priority for IAATO, the Committee for Environmental Protection and many Antarctic Treaty Parties, where an integrated approach is required to maintain multiple intrinsic values and stakeholder needs, particularly where human activity is highly concentrated. SCAR and IAATO jointly proposed a collaborative project to develop an integrative, evidence-based approach to site management, incorporating science and tourism activities and all known biodiversity features (such as breeding seabird colonies, vegetation, and invertebrates) (ATCM XL IP166). Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) is a routine approach employed by conservation scientists to aid decision makers in managing whole landscapes involving multiple stakeholders and multiple objectives. SCAR, IAATO and project partners are utilising the SCP approach to develop a SCP for the Antarctic Peninsula that will deliver quantifiable, evidence-based solutions for the simultaneous management of tourism, science and biodiversity in the Antarctic Peninsula region.
The project commenced in 2018 and a post-doctoral researcher, Dr Jasmine Lee, commenced work in April 2019 at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. To date a methodology has been identified using some of the latest and most advanced spatial planning tools available to conservation scientists. This includes defining the objectives of the project, the identification and collection of relevant data, identification of an appropriate conservation decision support software, and utilising relevant stakeholder engagement.
Defining the objectives and targets of the SCP is a critical step in the process. Overall objectives will be defined for each stakeholder group (science, tourism, biodiversity) and targets defined for each individual feature (for example what percentage of colonies need to be protected for each breeding seabird species). Objectives and targets will be identified via engagement with all stakeholders. Objectives can be updated iteratively as new information becomes available.