22 October, 2008 Press releases

New visualisation of South Georgia

A new visualisation tool for exploring the subantarctic islands of South Georgia is unveiled today (22 October 2008). The South Georgia Geographic Information System (SGGIS) enables researchers and the public to see the islands’ environmental landscape in a completely new way and will help to manage and protect the abundant wildlife that lives there, such as the wandering albatross.

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands commissioned GIS developers at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to create the SGGIS. It combines a detailed interactive map of South Georgia with a variety of information such as the topography, vegetation and glacier change to historic sites, protected areas and distributions of various animals, such as seals and penguins.

British Antarctic Survey GIS manager Paul Cooper says,

“The environment of South Georgia is very fragile and under pressure from introduced species, human activities and the effects of climate change. SGGIS will help to minimise these impacts as the system provides more information than was previously available.”

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands views the system as an invaluable tool for future environmental management of the island, whether that be the management of invasive species, the protection of vulnerable species or the long-term monitoring and management of tourist activities.

The SGGIS information will be used to plan eradication programmes for introduced species, such as rats, which have caused ground nesting birds to desert certain areas of South Georgia. For instance, burrowing petrels and the South Georgia pipit now only nest on the smaller rat-free offshore islands and the south coast. The system is also aimed at tourists planning to visit the islands, or anyone with an interest in South Georgia, to give them a greater understanding of the geography and environment.

South Georgia Geographic Information System (SGGIS)


Issued by the British Antarctic Survey Press Office

Athena Dinar, Tel: +44 (0)1223 221414; mobile: 07740 822229 email: amdi@bas.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Screen shots and stunning footage of South Georgia and its wildlife are available from the BAS Press Office as above.


Paul Cooper, British Antarctic Survey. Tel: +44 (0)1223 221648; email: aprc@bas.ac.uk

The Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is a world leader in research into global environmental issues. With an annual budget of around £45 million, five Antarctic Research Stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft, BAS undertakes an interdisciplinary research programme and plays an active and influential role in Antarctic affairs. BAS has joint research projects with over 40 UK universities and has more than 120 national and international collaborations. It is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council.

Related link

South Georgia Geographic Information System (SGGIS)