The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust continues to make progress
over its major conservation project to preserve Shackleton's, Scott's
and Borchgrevink's historic huts located in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica.
The project was launched by HRH the Princess Royal after she had visited
these internationally significant sites in February 2002.
A Conservation Report regarding Sir Ernest Shackleton's hut at Cape
Royds was issued in March 2003 following widespread consultation. It
was launched by the New Zealand Prime Minister Right Hon. Helen Clark,
MP, and Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest. An Implementation
Plan for the hut is now in preparation.
At the same time, Conservation Plans are also being prepared, once
more with widespread consultation amongst international authorities,
on Captain Robert Falcon Scott's huts at Hut Point (built by his Discovery
Expedition 1901-04) and Cape Evans (built by his Terra Nova Expedition
1911-13), and on the huts at Cape Adare constructed by Scott and by
Borchgrevink's 1899-1900 expedition.
These preparations will pave the way for actual conservation work to
begin in earnest as soon as the necessary funding is in place. Fundraising
efforts have already produced some substantial donations, but there
is still a long way to go in order to meet the several million pounds
needed in total. Meanwhile, annual basic maintenance continues on site
as funds permit.
A most significant step in raising the international profile of the
project, is the inclusion of Shackleton's hut in the World Monuments
Fund (WMF) 2004 Watch List of the world's 100 Most Endangered Sites.
WMF, based in New York, is a non-profit organization focused on conserving
the world's historic, artistic and architectural heritage on an international
level. This listing confirms the significance of Shackleton's hut in
the first tier of world heritage, and brings it to the attention of
potential public and private supporters around the world. Sites listed
previously by WMF include the Great Wall of China, the Valley of the
Kings in Egypt, the Taj Mahal, Pompeii and Machu Picchu.
World Monument Fund President Bonnie Burnham noted that this was the
first time a site in Antarctica had been selected for the World Monument
Watch list, and commented "The Watch list includes sites ranging
from ancient cities to modern industrial buildings, to religious and
civic structures, to entire landscapes. Inclusion on the list is often
the only hope for survival for these threatened cultural monuments".
Shackleton's hut is located on Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica.
It was built by the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 (also known
as the Nimrod Expedition) led by Ernest Shackleton.
Shackleton's hut, and those of Scott's and Borchgrevink's expeditions,
comprise almost all the very few intact wooden buildings remaining on
Earth's southernmost continent, dating from the heroic age of Antarctic
exploration. These expeditions together played a major part in opening
up knowledge of Antarctica, both geographically and scientifically.
The huge advances in understanding they achieved were made at the cost
of enormous hardships, calling for exceptional endurance and sacrifice
from the expedition members. The buildings were used as an expedition
base and laboratory for scientific research. They were designed to withstand
extreme weather conditions only for the duration of the actual expeditions
which built them. After nearly a century of Antarctic blizzards, the
buildings still stand, with thousands of the expeditions' artefacts
still there. However, they have all decayed considerably and are now
in need of urgent and extensive conservation.
If you would like to find out more or contribute financially to the
Trust's project, check out their website www.heritage-antarctica.org
© Martin Williams, UK Consultant to New Zealand Antarctic Heritage