The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is an area of Antarctica which is administered by the United Kingdom. It is a region mostly formed by offshore islands, situated south of 60°S latitude and between longitudes 20°W and 80°W. Although the area was explored much earlier by adventurous travelers and whalers the territory was only officially formed in 1962. There are no native inhabitants in BAT and the islands are mainly used to give access to the scientific research stations in the Antarctic.
Most of the landmass in the Antarctica is permanently covered with ice. However, life is still present in the 1% of the region that is ice and snow free. In these areas, there are large numbers of seals, penguins and birds, as well as a variety of mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi.
According to the British Antarctic Survey, there are, in total, around 100 species of mosses, 25 species of liverworts, and 300 to 400 species of lichens in the Antarctica. They can tolerate low temperatures and dehydration, being specially adapted to surviving in extreme environments. Trees and shrubs do not grow in these conditions. There are only two species of flowering plants that occur in the Antarctica, the Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis). These arise along the warmer parts of the Antarctica Peninsula and in the South Orkney Islands and the South Shetland Islands.
The Antarctic Territory is protected by the Antarctic Treaty since 1961 and several islands are designated protected areas. However, human activities such as whale and seal hunts and the more recent waves of tourists unintentionally carried exotic species into these regions. Invasive species are the biggest threat to the native flora of Antarctica and we should ensure that we can minimize the associated risks.
© Copyright Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew's UK Overseas Territories team collaborates with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
on plant conservation activities.
Vascular species checklist complete
Red List evaluation in progress
No current activity
Important Plant Areas not yet identified
No production land
The Antarctic Territory is protected by the Antarctic Treaty since 1961; Several islands are designated protected areas
Seeds of the two vascular plants in long-term storage in the Millennium Seed Bank; both species in cultivation at RBG Kew
A checklist of non-native and invasive species compiled; draft invasive species strategy for South Atlantic UKOTs under review
No plant species in international trade
No plant-based products produced
No current indigenous use of plant products
BAS facilitates scientific research on the Antarctic continent to scientists from over thirty countries
Herbarium facility maintained by BAS; BAS herbarium
digitised by the UKOTs Programme at RBG Kew in 2009
EU-funded South Atlantic Invasive Species Project provided a regional network for conservation initiatives and invasive species control
Please use the links below to see further details on conservation activities in the UK Overseas Territories
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
Pitcairn IslandsSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus
Tristan da Cunha
Turks and Caicos Islands
Homepage of the UKOTs Online Herbarium
Site published by
Name: UK Overseas Territories Science Team
Institute: Royal Botanic Garden Kew
Sponsor: Overseas Territories Environment Programme
Site published by
UK Overseas Territories Science Team, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Please cite as
UKOTs Online Herbarium (2011).
Published on the internet at http://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/UKOT (date accessed).
For further information
Please contact Kew UKOTs Team