The Ant-ICON Comparative Antarctic Conservation Workshop met at the Scott Polar Research Institute on September 12–13, 2022. Thirty-two researchers from sixteen countries came together over two sunny days to discuss different approaches to Antarctic conservation.
The focus of the workshop was a comparative assessment of the interactions between Antarctic environments and human activities. Participants were asked to give a critical 5-10 minute presentation ending in a brief thought-provoking question or ‘provocation’. These were divided into six sequential sessions, each comprising three to four presentations followed by breakout groups that addressed the questions posed by the presenters. Session topics included:
- Towards a Biocultural Approach to Antarctic Conservation
- International, Comparative and Cultural Dimensions of Antarctic Conservation
- Introducing the Conservation Challenges of the Antarctic Peninsula Region
- Introducing the Conservation Challenges of the McMurdo Dry Valleys
- Scientific Conservation in Antarctica
- Theoretical and Historical Approaches to Antarctic Conservation
Participants represented a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, such as microbial ecology, environmental history, political philosophy, glaciology, critical geography, and tourism. Somewhat surprisingly, the communication across disciplines was immediate and fruitful as the participants quickly engaged in collegial discussion. At the end of the workshop a number of participants commented on how their perspectives had widened and the value of hearing contributions from disciplines different from their own.
Notable themes developed from the workshop include, but are not limited to:
- National environmental accountability and transparency
- The intersections of culture, history, and science
- Local impacts from tourism, station infrastructure, and science projects
- Impact of global climate change
- The diverse ways of defining ‘conservation’
- The legal rights of nature
- The utility of regularly sending a representative from the Antarctic community (perhaps SCAR) to the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC and meetings of other external bodies.
More detailed results from the workshop will be forthcoming, and we hope this is a step towards an inclusive and integrated approach to Antarctic conservation that more fully considers the nature of nested and complex Antarctic socio-ecological systems.
We thank the British Academy for providing funding for the workshop, SPRI for allowing us to hold it on their premises, and last but not least, SCAR and the fabulous SCAR Secretariat staff for their amazing support – we could not have had such a successful workshop without help from Rosemary Nash, Johanna Grabow, Chandrika Nath and Eoghan Griffin.
We will hold an online follow-up workshop in which we briefly summarise what the in-person workshop covered and have a follow-up discussion with the broader community on 26 September at 19:00 UTC and invite anyone interested in Antarctic conservation to join. Access details for this workshop are provided below.
Post-workshop Meeting (online)
Topic: Ant-ICON R3 post-workshop meeting
Time: Sep 26, 2022 19:00 UTC
Zoom Meeting: https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/99717840446?pwd=cHA3Q1hvcnliMlQ3cm5zUnF6ZVNWdz09
Meeting ID: 997 1784 0446