Learning to tread lightly

Each person working with the Australian Antarctic Program must take personal responsibility for protecting the environment and operating within national and international rules and regulations. To achieve the best outcome we run training programs covering these issues. This is particularly important for non-staff expeditioners, who experience only a short training period before each group takes on managing their station environment.

All expeditioners have one major training session and several shorter sessions between induction and arrival in Antarctica, supported by information on the AAD website training videos and publications. In the main training session, groups from each station build on expertise within their group by working through exercises and scenarios covering the Madrid Protocol, Australian laws and AAD requirements. Issues include environmental impact assessment, permits, wildlife protection, waste management, preventing marine pollution, special area protection, fuel management and energy conservation.

Additional courses are tailored according to need. For example, station leaders have training on legal and procedural requirements for their role as Antarctic Treaty inspectors and because of their ultimate responsibility for their stations' environmental management.

The AAD's training needs are being reviewed in preparation for certification of the Division's environmental management system to ISO 14001 (see 'New policy raises bar for environmental practices', p 20). This seeks to ensure universal awareness of environmental responsibilities and appropriate training. Likely developments include using accreditation to assess competency, and web-based training to complement and build on initial face-to-face sessions. Further reviews will be conducted periodically.

Elizabeth Kerry, Operations Environment Officer, AAD