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

first_imgAntarctica is considered among the world’s last great wildernesses, but its currentnetwork of Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) is inadequate, unrepresentativeand at risk, needing urgent expansion due to the vulnerability of Antarctica to increasingthreats from climate change and human activities. Among the existing ASPAs, no. 129Rothera Point is unique because its designation related specifically to the monitoring ofthe impacts associated with the neighbouring Rothera Research Station, operated by theUnited Kingdom. The station is located on Adelaide Island (Antarctic Peninsula) in AntarcticConservation Biogeographic Region 3 (ACBR3). We aim here to: (1) provide animproved description of the botanical values of the ASPA, and detailed vegetation mappingas for the establishment of future monitoring, (2) assess the representativeness of theASPA vegetation within a wider geographical context encompassing Marguerite Bay andAdelaide Island and, (3) use this case study as a contribution to the ongoing discussionwithin the Antarctic Treaty System on the future development of the continent-wide ASPAnetwork. Even though this specific ASPA was not initially designated for its biodiversityvalue, a higher species richness was recorded within the ASPA than outside the protectedarea 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 exhibitsthe greatest floristic richness within Marguerite Bay and Adelaide Island, being a biodiversityhot-spot of exceptional value. This case study emphasizes the continued existenceof significant knowledge gaps relating to Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity, and the urgentneed for large-scale assessment of the biological values of Antarctica, as one of the mainchallenges for the implementation of a robust and representative system of protected areasin terrestrial Antarctica, to protect this global natural heritage in the face of current andpredicted future environmental change.last_img read more