The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) has unveiled plans to designate Terrestrial Protected Areas covering the entire landmass of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, some 3,800km2.
The move aims to complement the region’s Marine Protected Area, which covers 1.24 million km2 and was designated in 2012. The Terrestrial Protected Area seeks to bring a similar rigour to the islands’ landmass and ‘marks an important step in consolidating existing protection measures and careful management and enshrining them in law,’ the Government said in a press release this week.
In unveiling the plans, the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands said that it is anticipated that there will be a consultation with the Government’s global community of stakeholders on the management plans for each Protected Area before the end of 2022. The consultation will be part of the first of two phases, which will also see the management plans feed into Protected Areas legislation.
The second phase will, ‘see further work undertaken to identify areas within South Georgia that need additional research, monitoring and management within the Protected Area,’ the GSGSSI press release said.
The designation aims to support ’environmental recovery and resilience through world-leading evidence-based sustainable management, one of the goals detailed the region’s new stewardship framework, Protect Sustain Inspire, which was published in January 2021.
‘Relentless in strengthening the protections we afford nature’
His Excellency Nigel Phillips CBE, Commissioner for South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands said: ‘The incredible success of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area demonstrates how working in collaboration with partners can leverage a precautionary approach to our maritime environment. We will now extend that approach to our landmass. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Terrestrial Protected Area will drive a coherent and consistent methodology in delivering our vision and associated strategic objectives across the entire Territory. In pursuit of this goal, we will be relentless in strengthening the protections we afford nature and this announcement marks the latest step in the values-based approach set out in our stewardship framework: Protect Sustain Inspire. Let South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands be your inspiration.’
The move was also welcomed by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, IAATO. Amanda Lynnes, IAATO Director of Environment and Science Coordination, said:’South Georgia has long been close to IAATO’s heart, with its abundant wildlife, breathtaking scenery and rich history. For decades we have closely collaborated with the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to enable our visitors to sensitively and responsibly experience the magic of the islands first-hand. We look forward to contributing to this next exciting phase of protected area management and the continued conservation of this precious place for many generations to come.’