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SPRI Review 1996: Research Overviews

Research Overviews

Polar Ecology and Management Group

Dr B. Stonehouse
P.K. Crosbie, A.J. Nimon

The work of this group has continued to include ecological and environmental issues in both polar regions, with special emphasis on polar tourism.

Dr Bernard Stonehouse worked in Antarctica from 15 November to 4 January, lecturing and travelling on four tourist cruises in MV Professor Multanowski and MV Akademik Boris Petrov, in the Peninsula and Scotia Arc areas. Together with surveyor Ken Blaiklock and ecologist Jasmine Minbashian, he continued the programme of ecological mapping of landing sites on scales of 1:1000-2000. Data from these visits have been included in draft 'Management recommendations for visitor sites in Antarctica,' which have been circulated to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators and to selected cruise leaders for comment.

Kim Crosbie (Research Student) visited Antarctica from 10 January to 19 March, taking part in five cruises in MV Explorer. On four of these she was expedition leader, responsible for itinerary planning, safety, and the application of Antarctic Treaty Recommendation XVIII-1.

During his stay in Antarctica, Dr Stonehouse began dicsussions with Dr Rakusa-Susczcewski, head of the Department of Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, on possibilities for continuing aspects of Project Antarctic Conservation (our seven-year research programme on polar tourism) at Henryk Arctowski, the Polish research station in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. On his return in January, Dr Stonehouse was awarded a British Council travel and research grant to visit the Academy in Warsaw, where he spent a week meeting Polish scientists and planning a three-year programme of tourism developments at Arctowski, to be undertaken and monitored by Polish scientists. A further grant from the British Council provided funding for a three-year programme of exchange visits for scientists between Warsaw and Cambridge.

Later in January, Dr Stonehouse attended a conference in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, hosted jointly by the Norsk Polarinstitutt and WWF-Arctic, that brought together representatives of the tourist industry, Arctic governments, conservationists, and researchers to develop guidelines and codes of conduct for Arctic tourists and tour operators. A follow-up workshop was held at the Institute on 16-18 August, in which members of the steering group drafted guidelines and codes of conduct, for circulation and consideration at a further meeting scheduled for February 1997.

Between 12-16 May, Dr Stonehouse lectured and gave seminars on polar ecology and management at the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, the Department of Biology of the University of Potsdam, and the Institut für Ökologie, Friedrich-Schiller Universität, Jena.

On 19-21 August, the Polar Ecology and Management Group hosted a three-day conference on 'Management of polar tourism,' attended by more than 60 participants representing the tourist industry, scientific research, conservation interests, and those responsible for government and regulation in both polar regions. Interest centred particularly on Antarctica and Svalbard: many of the papers and posters presented results of recent and current studies in Project Antarctic Conservation. We hope to publish proceedings from this conference.

On 2-6 September, Dr Stonehouse, Crosbie, and Amanda Nimon (Research Student) presented papers at the Third international conference on penguin biology, held in Capetown, South Africa. Dr Stonehouse's paper on the limitations of metal penguin bands (which arose initially from a presentation at a workshop on Antarctic bird banding in Cambridge) gave rise to a new cooperative research project involving Dr Peter Barham, Reader in physics at Bristol University, and other members of the international penguin research community, toward the design, development, and field-testing of plastic penguin bands.

Crosbie and Nimon attended the SCAR Bird Biology Subcommittee Workshop in Cambridge, 31 July-2 August, presenting information on penguins and flying birds, based on their Cuverville studies. Crosbie attended the WWF Arctic tourism guidelines workshop in August and participated in the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators' workshop on 'Building a framework for an environmental impact assessment' at Airlie Centre, Virginia, 27-29 September.

Crosbie and Nimon continued to work on doctoral theses arising from their Antarctic fieldwork. Dr Stonehouse continued work on two books - Travellers' guide to Antarctica, scheduled for publication in 1997, and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica, a compilation involving more than 70 contributors, due to be published by John Wiley and Sons in 1998.