Environment and Treaty Obligation

Considerations of impact on the Antarctic environment need to come to terms with problems of scale. On the one hand, there are the vastnesses of the Antarctic ice sheet and the Southern Ocean, both with an enormous buffering capacity to absorb the impacts of human activities. On the other hand, there are small, coastal, ice-free areas, homes of birds, seals, plants and other forms of life down to the microscopic, where the impact of human activities can be considerable. Recognizing the environmental values of pristine Antarctica, Environmental Protocol stemmed through Antarctica Treaty.

“Environmental monitoring is a fundamental element of basic research, environmental management, and conservation. The organized and systematic measurement of selected variables provides for the establishment of baseline data and the identification of both natural and human-induced change in the environment” Monitoring data are important in the development of models of environmental processes, which in turn facilitate progress towards a predictive capability to detect environmental impact or change. The collection and evaluation of monitoring data is essential for the detection of human perturbation within the natural variability of ecosystem processes. Since all environmental monitoring must be based on testable hypotheses it can also contribute to advancement in both basic and applied research.”

There are three distinct objectives for monitoring in Antarctica: 

(1) to protect the scientific value of the Antarctic 

(2) to help in the continuous improvement of Antarctic environmental management, and 

(3) to meet the legal requirements of the Protocol and national legislation