The selection of sites that comprise the existing network of Antarctic protected areas has been largely ad hoc, driven by national interests rather than concerted efforts to ensure systematic and representative coverage of the Antarctic environment. Consequently there are gaps in coverage of all major ecosystems, in particular areas kept inviolate from human activity, inland lakes, and marine protected areas. Annex V of the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty provides a list of values to be protected within a network of Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs), but provides no quantitative methods for site identification and prioritisation. The Antarctic Important Bird Area (IBA) Inventory is a joint initiative of BirdLife International and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Group of Experts on Birds (formerly the Bird Biology Subcommittee). The Antarctic IBA Inventory has identified 119 candidate IBAs, 97 of which are not currently protected as ASPAs. The IBA Inventory can improve the Antarctic Protected Area System (PAS) in that it provides a method by which to identify and prioritise sites for their potential inclusion in the Antarctic PAS.
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