Protection of Wilderness and Aesthetic Values in Antarctica

  • Rupert Summerson


The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, the “Madrid Protocol,” came into force in 1998. Included in its provisions is the protection of wilderness and aesthetic values. Despite the passage of 12 years, implementation of protection of these values has been slow. The history of the desire to protect these values is reviewed, which reveals that they have actually been discussed and promoted by a number of working groups under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) since 1980. Protection was included in the failed Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA) and before being included in the Madrid Protocol.

One of the reasons for the delay in implementation of protection has been the lack of internationally acceptable definitions. The proposition that all Antarctica could be considered as wilderness except for those areas that have been degraded by human activities is consistent with protection measures elsewhere in the world. Aesthetic value encompasses not just scenic beauty but, perhaps more importantly in Antarctica, the sublime. The inclusion of intrinsic value as an additional consideration in the Madrid Protocol is also discussed.

To measure the extent of the current impact on wilderness and aesthetic values by human activities, the human footprint in Antarctica needs to be determined. A number of methods of determining the baseline are canvassed, with the least bounding rectangle being favored. Visibility and sound modeling in a geographical information system can then determine the extent of the footprint. A large-scale Internet survey was set up to test a series of hypotheses on definitions of wilderness and aesthetic values, and the impact of human activities on these values and preliminary results are described. The chapter concludes with some proposed implementation measures to achieve better protection for the Antarctic ecosystem.


Diesel Generator Scenic Beauty Aesthetic Preference Antarctic Station Antarctic Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Architecture, Building and PlanningThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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