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|Author :||Christian Schott|
|School/Work Place :||Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand|
Remote protected areas are often vulnerable to impacts by visitors. This is generally due to the dual implications of remoteness: a) the area's ecosystems remaining largely undisturbed by human activity (Carey, Dudley and Stolton, 2000) and b) minimal or absent visitor adaptation and monitoring due to logistical and financial constraints. However, despite the vulnerable nature of these spaces understanding of visitors' knowledge of visitation guidelines and actual behaviour is generally minimal, and often anecdotal, due to above-mentioned constraints limiting research and monitoring activity. From a management perspective this dynamic tends to become more problematic when the level of remoteness increases, as in general terms the protected area's scientific and/or historic value (if measured by level of disturbance) increases in line with management infrastructure decreasing. The sub Antarctic island of South Georgia (UK), which is deemed both ecologically and historically important, presents a pertinent case of a remote protected area experiencing these dynamics.
In South Georgia's case the challenges posed by vulnerability on the one hand and lack of empirically-grounded understanding of visitors' knowledge of visitation guidelines on the other are compounded by a steady increase in visitation over the last decade. Due to South Georgia's location in the middle of the South Atlantic (54° 30' S / 37° 0' W) and its strict policy prohibiting overnight landings visits (ship-based) are both temporally and spatially concentrated. With regard to implications for visitor management in other parts of the world, it has to be acknowledged that these dynamics are not common, yet they are not unique either as there are other remote islands that share a number of these dynamics.