A science-based management model to protect isolated and vulnerable subantarctic ecosystems

Published: 30 August 2017
Last edited: 04 February 2019
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Since the 1950’s, the local authority of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) have been working hand in hand with the scientific community for the protection and the management of the French Southern Lands (TAF), leading to the creation of the TAF nature reserve in 2006 and its extension at sea in 2016 (672,969 km2). This very large MPA raises new challenges related to the lack of knowledge on marine ecosystems and the already visible impacts of global changes. The science-based model of TAF is key for the successful management of one of the largest MPAs in the world.


Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Coastal and marine spatial management
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Science and research
Standards/ certification
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals


French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Show on Protected Planet


- Vulnerability of unique subantarctic marine ecosystems, presenting one of the most important species richness and diversity in the Southern ocean.


-  Need to optimize logistical, financial and human resources to manage one of the largest marine protected areas in the world


- Sparsely documented territory where important knowledge gaps remain


- Difficulty of surveilling and supplyinga very isolated territory, located 2000 to 5000kms away from any continent


- Impacts of global changes that are already affecting the TAF (southward shift of oceanic water fronts, rise of temperature and acidity, human activities (fisheries)…).


As an uninhabited territory, the principal beneficiary is the untouched fauna and flora of TAF which provide essential ecosystem services for the whole planet. Scientists and fishermen, the only users of TAF also benefit from the management model.

How do the building blocks interact?

Please see diagram below.


Firstly established to maintain French sovereignty in the French Southern Lands (TAF), the development of innovative research on earth and natural sciences established France as a leader in subantarctic research, informing international policy making on the impacts of global changes on biodiversity.


Since the 1950’s, the results of scientific activities in the TAF outlined the uniqueness and the vulnerability of the territory, leading to the establishment of one of the largest MPA in the world in 2016. The close partnership between science and management allowed the designation of priority zones for conservation, now designated as strict protection zones (Cat. IUCN Ia). Based on the experience of the first management plan of the nature reserve (2011-2015), the 2nd management plan (2018-2027) includes actions to improve knowledge on marine ecosystems, to inform the efficient spatial conservation planning and management strategy of the nature reserve.

Contributed by

Anne Gaelle TAAF

Other contributors

Terres australes et antarctiques françaises