Systematic conservation planning for Antarctic research stations

Publication Name

Journal of Environmental Management


The small ice-free areas of Antarctica are essential locations for both biodiversity and scientific research but are subject to considerable and expanding human impacts, resulting primarily from station-based research and support activities, and local tourism. Awareness by operators of the need to conserve natural values in and around station and visitor site footprints exists, but the cumulative nature of impacts often results in reactive rather than proactive management. With human activity spread across many isolated pockets of ice-free ground, the pathway to the greatest reduction of human impacts within this natural reserve is through better management of these areas, which are impacted the most. Using a case study of Australia's Casey Station, we found significant natural values persist within the immediate proximity (<10 m) of long-term station infrastructure, but encroachment by physical disturbance results in ongoing pressures. Active planning to better conserve such values would provide a direct opportunity to enhance protection of Antarctica's environment. Here we introduce an approach to systematic conservation planning, tailored to Antarctic research stations, to help managers improve the conservation of values surrounding their activity locations. Use of this approach provides a potential mechanism to balance the need for scientific access to the continent with international obligations to protect its environment. It may also facilitate the development of subordinate conservation tools, including management plans and natural capital accounting. By proactively minimising and containing their station footprints, national programs can also independently demonstrate their commitment to protecting Antarctica's environment.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Biological Anthropology Section



Link to publisher version (DOI)