Why does Russia want Antarctica

Arctic and Antarctic: Aid for Polar Regions

They are only sparsely populated and far from any civilization. Nevertheless, the polar regions are threatened with great dangers. The WWF wants to protect the two huge natural refuges from mining and climate catastrophe.

In autumn 1990, the postman brought new signature lists to WWF headquarters by shoebox. A total of more than 320,000 people supported WWF and Greenpeace's call for an Antarctic World Park. On November 16 of that year, before the start of the special conference on the Antarctic Treaty in Chile, Arved Fuchs, who crossed the Antarctic, and Carl-Albrecht von Treuenfels, chairman of the board at the time, handed over the signatures to Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

The years of work by Greenpeace and WWF were successful: on October 4, 1991, all contracting states signed the important additional protocol to the existing Antarctic Treaty in Madrid. Since then, among other things, it has banned all activities for oil and ore extraction until 2046 - an important decision for the protection of this last great wilderness on earth.

Another spectacular milestone for nature conservation was achieved in 1994: after a large-scale campaign by the WWF and other non-governmental organizations, 50 million square kilometers in Antarctica were declared a whale sanctuary. In the summer of 2003, the protected area was expanded to include additional areas.

Protection from mining and other intrusions

In the Arctic today, more than 35 million hectares are protected from mining and other invasions with the support of WWF. WWF International has had an Arctic program since 1992, which is also supported by WWF Germany. The main topics are marine pollution, the dangers of oil and gas production and the establishment of protected areas. For example in Siberia: The Soviet Academy of Sciences and WWF Germany signed a cooperation in Northern Siberia on November 15, 1989 in Frankfurt. Then, after four years of scientific preparatory work and two expeditions by WWF in 1993, a tundra nature reserve the size of Lower Saxony was inaugurated on the north coast of the Taimyr Peninsula.

The WWF also contributed to the fact that the number of polar bears increased from 5,000 in the 1950s to around 27,000 today. But with the shrinking sea ice in the wake of global warming, two thirds of all polar bears are threatened. Therefore Canada will set up a huge sanctuary where the summer drift ice will last the longest. In Russia, the WWF has already helped protect the habitat of around a quarter of the world's polar bear population.

The polar region as a habitat

For the preservation of both polar regions and the survival of its inhabitants, however, it will be decisive whether we succeed in limiting global warming. Because nowhere else on earth does it warm up faster than in the Arctic and Antarctic: the average air temperature has risen by around five degrees Celsius in some parts of the polar regions over the past 100 years. The ice surfaces at the north and south poles are shrinking accordingly. In the summer of 2012, the Arctic Ocean was more ice-free than ever before.

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  • Arctic

    The Russian Arctic is one of the least developed areas on earth - shaped by a highly sensitive ecosystem. Continue reading ...

  • polar bears

    With the shrinking sea ice in the wake of global warming, two thirds of all polar bears are threatened. Continue reading ...