[caption id="attachment_14653" align="alignnone" width="640"] Photo: Vincent van Zeijst[/caption]
An international study led by scientists from the University of Monash (Melbourne, Australia) and carried out in close collaboration with the Prince’s Government, the Scientific Centre of Monaco (SCM) and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), has come to the conclusion that the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean are healthier than the rest of the world.
This study, published in the Journal "PLOS Biology", is one of the outcomes of a meeting held in Monaco in 2015, during which a multidisciplinary group of 23 experts carried out the first biodiversity assessment in Antarctica: "The Evaluation of Monaco." The objective was to compare the situation of Antarctic biodiversity and its management with that of the rest of the world.
The Aichi objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), had never been applied to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, which represents about 10 percent of the surface of the planet.
"The results were truly surprising," said Professor Steven Chown, lead author of the study and Director of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Monash. "While in some areas, such as the management of introduced species, the Antarctic region is doing quite well, in others, such as protected area management and bioprospecting regulation, it lags far behind.”
The study found that overall the difference between the state of biodiversity in Antarctica and the rest of the world was very small, contrary to the pure image we have of this remote place.
The data collected this year in Adélie Land by CSM researchers, in partnership with the CNRS and the University of Strasbourg, corroborate this sad fact: "For the second time in 60 years of presence in the region, we deplore, as in 2014, a total reproductive failure of Adélie penguins on the Island of Pétrels where the research station of Dumont D'Urville is located. The causes of this mortality are to be clarified but they undoubtedly associate global and local causes linked to global warming,” said Scientific Director of the CSM, Professor Denis Allemand.
"Despite this rather pessimistic assessment, there are great opportunities for positive action," said Professor Melodie McGeoch of Monash University and co-author of the article. "Agreements under the Antarctic Treaty System lend themselves to effective action and parties have recently strengthened their commitment to protect the biodiversity of the region."
This scientific study ensures that future assessments under the CBD's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 will be truly comprehensive. Professor McGeoch said that this study will help inform us about the overall progress towards achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals.
The Prince’s Government is pleased to have supported the development of such a study and is delighted to once again be able to welcome biodiversity experts from the Antarctic region to the Principality. A second workshop, entitled "Antarctica and the Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020: The Monaco Assessment-Implementation Programme”, will be organised in July 2017 in the Principality.