Policy ForumConservation

Challenges to the Future Conservation of the Antarctic

Science  13 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6091, pp. 158-159
DOI: 10.1126/science.1222821

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Summary

The Antarctic Treaty System, acknowledged as a successful model of cooperative regulation of one of the globe's largest commons (1), is under substantial pressure. Concerns have been raised about increased stress on Antarctic systems from global environmental change and growing interest in the region's resources (2, 3). Although policy-makers may recognize these challenges, failure to respond in a timely way can have substantial negative consequences. We provide a horizon scan, a systematic means for identifying emerging trends and assisting decision-makers in identifying policies that address future challenges (2, 3). Previous analyses of conservation threats in the Antarctic have been restricted to matters for which available evidence is compelling (4). We reconsider these concerns because they might escalate quickly, judging from recent rapid environmental change in parts of Antarctica and increasing human interest in the region (see the map). We then focus on a more distant time horizon.

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