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A Pilot Project to Limit the Human Impacts on the Fragile Antarctic Biota: Mitigation of a Runway through Vegetation Transplantation

1
Department of Science and High Techonology, Insubria University, 22100 Como, Italy
2
Department Theoretical and Applied Sciences, Insubria University, 21100 Varese, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 811; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020811
Received: 14 December 2020 / Revised: 7 January 2021 / Accepted: 11 January 2021 / Published: 15 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation)
Background: Antarctica is among the world’s last great wildernesses, but the anthropogenic activities and associated infrastructures threaten its fragile biota. We quantify the impact of the construction of a 2200 m long gravel runway airstrip for airfreight operations of the Italian research station on vegetation ecosystems at Boulder Clay (continental Antarctica). We propose a pilot project to mitigate this impact through the transplantation of vegetation from the runway to safe sites. Methods: A vegetation field survey was performed through phytosociological relevés and vegetation mapping and data were analyzed through multivariate analysis. Results: We quantify the destructive impact of the runway construction on the flora and vegetation of Boulder Clay. Based on vegetation characteristics, 28 priority areas were transplanted from the runway to safe sites, with 89% of survival. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first time that vegetation transplantation was performed in Antarctica to mitigate the consequences of human actions, as formerly it was used only for scientific experiments. This pilot project provides a tool to support management decisions, involving the quantitative evaluation of the infrastructure impacts and showing the suitability of practical mitigation actions. This pilot project proposes a practical tool exportable to all Antarctica and beyond and suggests to link the permissions’ release for the new infrastructures in Antarctica to the realization of specific conservation and mitigation actions. View Full-Text
Keywords: runway airstrip; flora and vegetation; biological conservation; vegetation transplantation; mitigation of anthropogenic impacts; management decisions runway airstrip; flora and vegetation; biological conservation; vegetation transplantation; mitigation of anthropogenic impacts; management decisions
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cannone, N.; Ponti, S.; Malfasi, F. A Pilot Project to Limit the Human Impacts on the Fragile Antarctic Biota: Mitigation of a Runway through Vegetation Transplantation. Sustainability 2021, 13, 811. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020811

AMA Style

Cannone N, Ponti S, Malfasi F. A Pilot Project to Limit the Human Impacts on the Fragile Antarctic Biota: Mitigation of a Runway through Vegetation Transplantation. Sustainability. 2021; 13(2):811. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020811

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cannone, Nicoletta, Stefano Ponti, and Francesco Malfasi. 2021. "A Pilot Project to Limit the Human Impacts on the Fragile Antarctic Biota: Mitigation of a Runway through Vegetation Transplantation" Sustainability 13, no. 2: 811. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020811

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