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Antarctic landscape

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.

Moss carpet growing amongst ice Conservation challenges

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
Britsh Antarctic Survey

Kew's UK Overseas Territories team collaborates with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on plant conservation activities.

Please use the links below to see further details on conservation activities in the UK Overseas Territories

Anguilla

Ascension Island

Bermuda

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Virgin Islands

Cayman Islands

Falkland Islands

Gibraltar

Montserrat

Pitcairn Islands

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus

St. Helena

Tristan da Cunha

Turks and Caicos Islands


Homepage of the UKOTs Online Herbarium

Homepage of the British Antarctic Survey Online Herbarium


Site published by
UK Overseas Territories Team, UK and Islands Programme, Conservation Science Department, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Please cite as
UKOTs Online Herbarium - British Antarctic Territory (Current Year). Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Hamilton, M.A. and Barrios, S. (eds.). Published on the internet at http://brahmsonline.kew.org/bat (Date Accessed).
For further information
Please contact Kew's UKOTs Team


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