Environmental management of a scientific field camp in Maritime Antarctica: reconciling research impacts with conservation goals in remote ice-free areas
Currently, a substantial proportion of Antarctic research is carried out through deployment of field camps, but little detailed information on the running of these facilities is often available. The remoteness of camps and the fragility of local Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems make the running of sustainable, low impact field science and logistics in ice-free areas a challenge for environmental managers. In this study we examined the environmental management at the Spanish camp within Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 126 Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands. Firstly, the input of materials and generation of pollution associated with the camp during a ten year period of operation was quantified. Examination of greenhouse gas emissions shows a mean of 14 t CO2 equivalent per researcher associated with transportation of people to the site, plus 44 t CO2 equivalent per researcher, associated with transportation of cargo to the field site. Secondly, the cumulative trampling footprint across Byers Peninsula and associated local impacts were recorded. Results showed the pattern of human movement within the ASPA and how activities concentrated around the field camp site. At the same time every effort was taken to ensure scientific outputs from research activities within the ASPA were maximized. Practical recommendations on operational logistics are discussed to minimize environmental impacts and optimize scientific benefits.