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Antarctic geoconservation: a review of current systems and practices

  • KEVIN A. HUGHES (a1), JERÓNIMO LÓPEZ-MARTÍNEZ (a2), JANE E. FRANCIS (a1), J. ALISTAIR CRAME (a1), LUIS CARCAVILLA (a3), KAZUYUKI SHIRAISHI (a4) (a5), TOMOKAZU HOKADA (a4) (a5) and AKIRA YAMAGUCHI (a4) (a5)...

Summary

The prohibition of commercial mineral resource extraction through the Antarctic Treaty System has removed one significant source of potential damage to Antarctica's geological and geomorphological values. However, given the on-going increase in Antarctic tourism and scientific footprint, some high-quality geological features may be vulnerable to human impact, such as damage due to the construction of logistical facilities, unregulated collection of geological specimens or oversampling for scientific purposes. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty puts in place a framework for the protection of Antarctica's environmental, scientific, historic, wilderness and aesthetic values. However, the Antarctic Protected Area system is still immature and further implementation of existing management tools may be required to protect the diverse range of vulnerabilities, qualities and spatial scales represented in the geology and geomorphology of the continent. At sites where high-quality mineralogical or palaeontological specimens exist in limited quantities, considerations of how best to prevent oversampling and manage access to remaining material may be supported by assessment of cumulative impacts. Examination of the level of Antarctic specimen loans from a selection of national geological collections suggested that existing publically accessible geological collections could be better utilized, which could reduce environmental impact and oversampling at vulnerable Antarctic sites.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Correspondence: Dr Kevin A. Hughes Tel: +44(0)1223 221616 e-mail: kehu@bas.ac.uk

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