Does the tourism affect the Biodiversity in the Antarctic?

In the absence of international standards for tourism in Antarctica, a hundred of tour companies that operate in the region created the International Association for Antarctic Tour Operator, whose members are subject to a self-demanding.

For example, they can not approach boats to the mainland with more than 400 passengers, they can not land more than 100 people at once, they can not match two ships at the same point of landing, etc.

We must understand that all human activity generates impacts. It is estimated that above of the 500 steps, a ground cover is already difficult to recover. One of the most interesting studies on the impact of tourism in Antarctica is conducted by Dr. Javier Benayas ( Autonomous University of Madrid) and Martí Boada (Autonomous University of Barcelona) on the occasion of International Polar Year 2008-2009.

The researchers acknowledge that the greatest danger of Antarctic tourism “is not so much the physical impact and / or organic medium to the plant and animal populations and their unique biodiversity on the planet.

What should worry about is the continued increase in the transport of tourists and the number of ships and aircraft moving to the mainland, which implies a greater risk of accidents with a high probability of potential pollutants discharged in an environment in which weather conditions and environmental effects are quite unpredictable ”

Everything that happens in Antarctica affects the rest of our planet is one of the foci that move all the engineering on a planetary scale climate. Knowing that climate allows us to improve our weather forecasting.

It is ironic that the cleanest place and more immaculate on the planet reached to the pollution in a distant place like the Northern Hemisphere.

Thanks to the there was base that monitored ozone, it has been able to implement international agreements aimed at preventing that damage the atmosphere.

If it had not paid attention to that basic research, we probably would have discovered the ozone hole when it had came to South America, the control process would have been slower and its adverse effects would have been manifested in the broadest layers of the population. Until the middle of this century will not recover normal ozone conditions. If we were followed such emissions polluting the result would have been catastrophic.

Now getting back to tourism, the first tourist boat reached the Antarctic coast in 1958. In 1990 the tourism soared. In 2009 we recorded the maximum number of visitors to date: 50,000 people.

By 2011, that number dropped to 35,000. In total, the 2010-2011 season operated 51 ships of various companies in the Antarctic, which must be added the arrivals by plane to Union Glacier Camp, the only tourist camp inside of the continent.

According to some studies is attributable only 5% of the human impact on the mainland tourists, the rest is caused by the 4,000 scientists working in permanent and temporary basis.

Antarctica has 14 million square kilometers (3 more than the European continent) but the 35,000 people who were there last year moved only 0.005% of that territory.

That is, 1,000 km of coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula (the area to which all cruise ships go) are used only about 200 landing sites, of which half did not receive more than 500 visitors a year, and the majority are concentrated in 10 specific places (including Port Lockroy and Deception Island).

That is, the vast majority of Antarctica is free of sightseeing … fortunately.

Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA 24

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About ANCA24canada

Environmental, Ecologists and Conservationist news from the Americas
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