ASOC has a great pamphlet called "Know Before You Go" that we're getting printed up for distribution at the ATCM next month. It has important information that people should keep in mind when visiting the continent. In the past, commercial tour operations have contributed to environmental pollution and disturbance of wildlife. Though many companies have taken steps in recent years to reduce the impact they have on the environment and the wildlife, tourists can still do a lot of damage if they're not properly educated.
ASOC stresses in the pamphlet that ALL human activity in Antarctica leads to environmental pollution and impacts. Therefore, it is important for visitors to weigh the benefits of their activities in the region against the negative impacts BEFORE THEY GO. And, if people chose to visit the continent, they should be diligent in minimizing any and all impacts. People can accomplish this by doing the following things:
- Minimize the waste they create while in Antarctica. It takes a lot of fuel to either treat that waste on sight or to transport it back on the ship.
- As much as possible, avoid carrying non-native plants, animals and microorganisms with them on their trip.
-Make sure that their expedition completes an environmental impact assessment before leaving (required under the Antarctic Treaty).
-Avoid disturbing wildlife through noise, pollution, human presence and habitat destruction. DO NOT GET TO CLOSE TO THE ANIMALS! Close proximity to humans has been shown to cause a heart rate increase of 20- 100% in birds. Being approached by humans may also cause birds to abandon their young/nests.
-Take extra care not to uproot moss and lichen wherever possible.
Information summarized from the Know Before You Go pamphlet. (FYI: It's a massive file...)