Conservation Planning in Antarctica

This project is part of the Special Research Initiative ‘Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future’ (SAEF) funded by the Australian Research Council and administered by Monash University. SAEF is a leading international research program delivering interdisciplinary research to forecast environmental change across the Antarctic region. The project will develop new conservation planning theory and prioritisation methods that are specifically adapted to Antarctica’s unique biodiversity, threats, and governance. The research will consider the continent, Southern Ocean and the sub-Antarctic islands.

TPenguin walkhere are currently 72 Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) designated to protect outstanding natural values covering 3,680km2. Despite ASPAs are covering less than 2% of Antarctica, 44% of species are found in one or more ASPA. Nevertheless, the ASPAs designated to protect outstanding natural values have been criticised as inadequate, unrepresentative, and biased. There has not been an assessment of their effectiveness in protecting the values for which they have been designated and their resilience to anthropogencic or climate change impacts. Existing and escalating anthropogenic impacts on the Antarctic continent have highlighted the need for a modern network of protected areas to be established to secure its unique biodiversity and natural values, now and into the future.

Working with the most up-to-date datasets on biodiversity, ecological proxies, and forecasts of environmental and anthropogenic change (arising from SAEF projects and other past/current and future initiatives), this project seeks to assist the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, members of CCAMLR and the governments responsible for the sub-Antarctic and sovereign maritime Antarctic islands to progress protection of Antarctic biodiversity and environmental values in the face of alternative and uncertain futures.

Systematic conservation planning will provide a theoretical framework for this research, and spatial conservation prioritisation will provide the analytical tools to identify effective solutions. The project will adapt existing methods, and develop new methods, for making conservation decisions in Antarctica.