Protection of cold environments as wilderness areas
Wilderness areas are remote, unspoilt parts of the world, including deserts, mountains and cold environments. Wilderness areas are typically unspoilt by human development and remain natural.
Many of the world’s cold environments are considered wilderness areas. This is due to their remoteness and hostile physical conditions. Cold environments considered cold environments include Antarctica as well as areas of Greenland, Alaska, Svalbard, Iceland and Siberia.
Cold environments need to be protected for a range of reasons, including:
Technology can provide environmentally friendly solutions to some of the challenges faced by developing cold environments. An example of this is the use of stilts to raise the Trans-Alaskan pipeline above the ground and insulation of the pipe to reduce the risk of thawing permafrost. In addition, pumping stations enable the oil to flow over mountainous areas in the region.
Antarctica is often described as ‘the last wilderness on Earth’. It has remained undeveloped since the signing of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. The treaty:
Since oil was found in Alaska in the 1960s, the US government has been involved in protecting the environment. Marine habitats and fishing have been monitored by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Also, the Western Arctic Reserve has been set up in the north of Alaska, protecting the area from oil and gas extraction.
A number of conservation groups, including the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), work with governments, organisations, businesses and communities to protect biodiversity across the Arctic. The WWF Arctic Programme was launched in 1992 to work with governments on issues such as climate change, polar bears, shipping and oil and gas.
Use the images below to explore related GeoTopics.