Wilderness and aesthetic values in the Antarctic
The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty requires parties: 'to identify within a systematic environmental-geographical framework ... areas of outstanding aesthetic and wilderness value' (Annex V, article 3.2). In order to develop these frameworks, procedures and techniques used in environmental planning are considered for their applicability and practicality in the severe Antarctic environment. The phrase in the Protocol is taken as two separate topics. Concepts of wilderness are examined first, and it is concluded that the whole continent should be seen as wilderness, with this designation being modified only for those areas in which human influence is visible. In order to understand 'aesthetic values', interpretations given to landscape are considered, before examining the techniques developed in the United Kingdom for landscape assessment, and those used in the United States which are termed visual resource management. Procedures, primarily based on the most recent practice in the United Kingdom, are developed, before testing by fieldwork on the Peninsula. Landscape assessment is seen as a widescale planning procedure, distinct from, though essential to, the site-specific techniques required for environmental impact assessment (EIA). Objective description and classification of the landscape forms the basis of the methodology, with subjective aspects following in the form of clearly stated criteria so as to identify 'areas of outstanding value'. During evaluation comparisons may only be made on a 'like with like' basis, eg glaciers with glaciers, islands with islands. If desired, areas may then be designated under the procedures given in the Protocol.