Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA): a case study at Rothera Point providing tools and perspectives for the implementation of the ASPA network in the Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctica is considered among the world’s last great wildernesses, but its current network of Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) is inadequate, unrepresentative and at risk, needing urgent expansion due to the vulnerability of Antarctica to increasing threats from climate change and human activities. Among the existing ASPAs, no. 129 Rothera Point is unique because its designation related specifically to the monitoring of the impacts associated with the neighbouring Rothera Research Station, operated by the United Kingdom. The station is located on Adelaide Island (Antarctic Peninsula) in Antarctic Conservation Biogeographic Region 3 (ACBR3). We aim here to: (1) provide an improved description of the botanical values of the ASPA, and detailed vegetation mapping as for the establishment of future monitoring, (2) assess the representativeness of the ASPA vegetation within a wider geographical context encompassing Marguerite Bay and Adelaide Island and, (3) use this case study as a contribution to the ongoing discussion within the Antarctic Treaty System on the future development of the continent-wide ASPA network. Even though this specific ASPA was not initially designated for its biodiversity value, a higher species richness was recorded within the ASPA than outside the protected area on Rothera Point. Within the local geographic context, based on the available data, Rothera Point is characterized by high biodiversity and, above all, Léonie Island exhibits the greatest floristic richness within Marguerite Bay and Adelaide Island, being a biodiversity hot-spot of exceptional value. This case study emphasizes the continued existence of significant knowledge gaps relating to Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity, and the urgent need for large-scale assessment of the biological values of Antarctica, as one of the main challenges for the implementation of a robust and representative system of protected areas in terrestrial Antarctica, to protect this global natural heritage in the face of current and predicted future environmental change.


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Authors: Cannone, Nicoletta, Convey, Peter ORCIDORCID record for Peter Convey, Malfasi, Francesco

On this site: Peter Convey
12 May, 2018
Biodiversity and Conservation / 27
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