Particularly special areas in Antarctica require additional protection from harmful impacts. Antarctica New Zealand works with Treaty partners and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure these special areas are identified and managed to ensure their value is preserved.
A protected area system has been in place in Antarctica since the early 1960’s. Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA) are established to protect areas of outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness values, any combination of those values, or on-going or planned scientific research.
It is an offence to enter an ASPA without a permit. Permits for entry to an ASPA should be applied for at the same time as submitting an Environmental Impact Assessment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Any activity to be carried out in a protected area must be in accordance with the relevant management plan. These are available from the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat website.
The plans provide, amongst other things, information on the reason for designation, identification of restricted zones, conditions under which permits may be granted, conditions applying to access and activities which may be carried out in the area.
All visits to an ASPA must be recorded and reported to allow end of season reporting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and to the other Antarctic Treaty Parties.
Antarctic Specially Managed Areas (ASMA) are intended to facilitate cooperation between nations operating in close proximity to each other, with a view to minimising environmental impacts. ASMAs may contain zones where various restrictions might apply. Activities within ASMAs are governed by a code of conduct.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys were designated as an ASMA in 2004. Antarctica New Zealand works closely with our Ross Sea partners through an established Dry Valleys ASMA Management Group to keep the Dry Valleys ASMA management plan relevant and up to date.
All visits to ASMAs must be recorded and reported to allow end of season reporting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and to the other Antarctic Treaty Parties.
Other sites in Antarctica that are of significant historic value can be designated as historic sites or monuments. The Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut in front of Scott Base and the historic cross on Observation Hill are designated as historic sites or monuments. The historic huts of Scott and Shackleton at Cape Evans, Hut Point and Cape Royds as well as Borchgrevink’s historic huts at Cape Adare are all listed as historic sites and monuments as well as being designated as Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA).
Antarctic New Zealand and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust cooperate closely to protect and managed these important sites in the Ross Sea region.
There are some sites in the Ross Sea region that are visited by tour operators and tourists. Activities at several of these sites are managed by guidelines that have been agreed by the Antarctic Treaty Parties. These guidelines apply to all visitors to the site whether tourists or national Antarctic programme participants.