Perspectives on Antarctic conservation: an analysis of New Zealand Antarctic stakeholder views
The Antarctic, open to all and under no state ownership, is one of the world’s global commons. This area is facing challenges that extend beyond its boundaries. Challenges stemming from global warming, economic utilisation of natural resources, increased human visitation and growing science-related activities in the area that are placing pressure on Antarctica’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity. In an effort to understand stakeholder perspectives from one of the states involved its governance, this study gathered the views of 124 New Zealand Antarctic stakeholders from four key stakeholder groups (government, science, commercial industry and conservationists) on Antarctic conservation. The study used a mixed methods approach, in the form of an online survey and interviews, to gather their views and utilised two opposing common-pool resource (CPR) management frameworks to analyse the data gathered. The study identified stakeholders in Antarctic conservation, challenges and issues facing Antarctic conservation as well as potential future scenarios for Antarctic conservation. Antarctic stakeholders that were identified included governments, members of the science community, those affiliated with specific commercial industries, and conservationists. In addition, the public and Antarctica’s wildlife were also seen as key stakeholders in Antarctic conservation. Issues raised by survey respondents and interviewees included direct and indirect human impacts on the Antarctic environment, particularly the present and future effects of climate change; as well as the potential for resource exploitation beyond harvesting of marine living resources. Although concerns over growing human presence in Antarctica through science, tourism and fishing were expressed, their impacts were deemed minor in contrast to effects from indirect human impacts. Uncertainty over the precise impacts of climate change on Antarctica created speculation towards the future conservation of the area. The Antarctic Treaty System’s (ATS) agreements were perceived as generally very positive and a number of strengths, as well as weaknesses of Antarctica’s governance system were raised. Stakeholders offered solutions for the future conservation of Antarctica, including the need to address climate change, strengthen the ATS and to further implement some of its existing environmental protection mechanisms. The analysis of data gathered in the context of the contrasting Common-pool resource (CPR) management frameworks revealed that the ATS governance structure has many attributes resembling strong CPR institutions, however, it also holds many operational challenges. This stakeholder analysis confirms that the future of Antarctic conservation remains vulnerable. To avoid a commons ‘tragedy’ from unfolding, a combined effort and cooperation of all stakeholders is paramount.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsAntarctic governance; Antarctic stakeholders; Antarctic stakeholder analysis; Antarctic conservation; New Zealand; natural resource management; common pool resources (CPRs); tragedy of the commons; collective action; Antarctica; stakeholder perceptions; stakeholders; survey; conservation
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