About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Tourism Threat to Antarctica Warning by Scientists

by Himabindu Venkatakrishnan on June 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM
Font : A-A+

 Tourism Threat to Antarctica Warning by Scientists

Better protection for Antarctica was called for by scientists as a surge in tourists visiting the frozen continent was threatening its fragile environment.

Tourist numbers have exploded from less than 5,000 in 1990 to about 40,000 a year, as found in industry figures, and most people go to the fragmented ice-free areas that make up less than one percent of Antarctica.

Advertisement

A growing number of research facilities are also being built, along with associated roads, fuel depots and runways, in the tiny ice-free zones.

It is these areas which contain most of the continent's wildlife and plants, yet they are among the planet's least-protected, said a study led by the Australian government-funded National Environmental Research Programme (NERP) and the Australian Antarctic Division.
Advertisement

"Many people think that Antarctica is well protected from threats to its biodiversity because it's isolated and no one lives there," said Justine Shaw from the NERP in the study published in the journal PLoS Biology.

"However, we show that there are threats to Antarctic biodiversity.

"Most of Antarctica is covered in ice, with less than one percent permanently ice-free," she added.

"Only 1.5 percent of this ice-free area belongs to Antarctic Specially Protected Areas under the Antarctic Treaty System, yet ice-free land is where the majority of biodiversity occurs."

Five of the distinct ice-free eco-regions have no protection at all while all 55 of the continent's protected areas are close to sites of human activity.

Steven Chown, from Monash University's School of Biological Sciences, another collaborator in the study, said the ice-free areas contain very simple ecosystems due to Antarctica's low species diversity.

This makes its native wildlife and plants extremely vulnerable to invasion by outside species, which can be introduced by human activity.

"Antarctica has been invaded by plants and animals, mostly grasses and insects, from other continents," he said.

"The very real current and future threats from invasions are typically located close to protected areas.

"Such threats to protected areas from invasive species have been demonstrated elsewhere in the world, and we find that Antarctica is, unfortunately, no exception."

The study said the current level of protection was "inadequate by any measure" with Shaw saying more was needed to guard against the threat posed by the booming tourism industry.

"(We need) to protect a diverse suite of native insects, plants and seabirds, many of which occur nowhere else in the world," she said.

"We also need to ensure that Antarctic protected areas are not going to be impacted by human activities, such as pollution, trampling or invasive species."

Antarctica is considered one of the last frontiers for adventurous travelers.

Most travel by sea, some paying in excess of US$20,000 for a luxury cabin in the peak period from November to March. There is also a healthy market for sightseeing flights.

Source: AFP
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 - It's time to RISE
First-Ever Successful Pig-To-Human Kidney Transplantation
World Osteoporosis Day 2021 -
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Medical Tourism-The Road Ahead Medical Tourism 

Recommended Reading
Scientists Claim That Ancient Antarctica was as Warm as Today's California Coast
Scientists have claimed that parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today's California coast, ....
Why Other Continents are Much Warmer Than Antartica
The reasons behind why Antarctica is not much warming than other continents and southern Australia ....
World Health Day
Recent stats from WHO indicates that 25% of the world's diseases are due to contamination of air, .....
Antarctica a Home to New Sea Anemone Species
Researchers unexpectedly stumbled upon a new species of sea anemones that were burrowed into the ......
Medical Tourism
Medical tourism can be broadly defined as provision of ''cost effective'' private medical care in co...
Medical Tourism-The Road Ahead
Medical Tourism has become a serious enterprise in India over the last two years. However some hospi...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use