Protection and management of areas under PEPAT

The former British base Port Lockroy is a protected historic site.Click to enlarge
The former British base Port Lockroy is a protected historic site.
Source: Fritz Hertel/UBA

What do a colony of emperor penguins, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, and polar researcher Ernest Shackleton's hut have in common? They and many other areas enjoy special protection and management status in Antarctica as Protected Area, Managed Area or Historic Site.

Annex V of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT) designates three categories of protection:

1. Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA)

Areas in this category have high environmental, scientific, historic or aesthetic value. Entry on foot, by vehicle or flyover is strictly prohibited except if a special permit is granted for that purpose. Currently there are 71 designated ASPAs.

2. Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA)

The instrument of Specially Managed Area ensures environmentally just use of such areas in which diverse human activities could potentially conflict or exert cumulative environmental impacts. ASMAs may include one or more ASPAs or Historic Sites and Monuments (HSM). No special permit is required to enter these areas. There are currently six designated ASMAs in Antarctica.

3. Historic Sites and Monuments (HSM)

Sites and monuments in this protection category have historic value and may be neither damaged, removed nor destroyed. Historic Sites and Monuments may be located within an ASPA or an ASMA. There are currently 90 listed Historic Sites and Monuments.

The annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) takes decisions on whether to designate a protected area in one of the three categories. The list of designated areas may be expanded upon the proposal of any or several Parties to the Environmental Protocol.

The Antarctic Protected Areas Database of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty features an updated list of the Specially Protected and Managed Areas in Antarctica, their corresponding Management Plans, and Historic Sites and Monuments.