BIOSECURITY – Help Protect South Georgia

After habitat restoration projects to remove invasive species such as reindeer, rats, mice and weeds, South Georgia is one of the most pristine environments in the world. Practicing thorough biosecurity is the single most important thing you can do to protect South Georgia.

Click here to download the most recent version of our Biosecurity Handbook [.pdf] – the one-stop-shop for all of our biosecurity policy & procedures.


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is a viral disease that primarily affects birds. Low pathogenic avian influenza viruses are common in wild birds and often cause no signs of disease. However, some strains of the virus including H5 and H7 are highly pathogenic in domestic poultry and can cause high mortality if they escape into wild bird populations. These are known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The current outbreak of HPAI has caused the death of high numbers of across the globe. In 2022/23 there were no reports of HPAI in the South Atlantic region, however, the confirmed presence of the disease on the South American continent makes it highly probably that the disease could arrive in South Georgia in the 23/24 season and have serious implications for the Territory’s wildlife.

In readiness for this updated guidance is available in Section 9 of the Biosecurity Handbook. This guidance describes the tiered response in relation to risk and presence of HPAI, enhanced biosecurity procedures, signs to be vigilant for and the steps that will be put in place for different groups / activities depending on the response level. As part of the response, if HAPI is suspected or confirmed, some sites on South Georgia may be closed to visitors either temporarily or for the remainder of the season. A table of response levels/closures is available to view here.


Visiting South Georgia? Read on…

Non-native species can spread to South Georgia, or move between different parts of South Georgia as a result of our activities. Seeds, microorganisms, and even insects can hitchhike on footwear, attached to clothing, or in bags that have been used in the outdoors previously. By following a few simple steps, you can help prevent this.


Before leaving home

Ideally, it’s best to buy new outdoor clothing and equipment for your trip to South Georgia. This ensures it’s perfectly clean from seeds, soil and insects. Choose equipment which is easy to clean and biosecure. Where possible avoid:

  • Velcro. It holds on to seeds and dirt and is really hard to clean.
  • Mesh. Some backpacks have breathable mesh back liners, mesh water bottle holders, and mesh is sometimes used in a breathable layer in waterproof trousers. Seeds get stuck in the mesh and they are really hard to remove.
  • Narrow boot treads. The more ‘open’ the treads on the soles of your boots the less likely they are to become clogged with soil and dirt, and the easier they are to clean.


If you already have outdoor clothing and equipment you’d like to bring, examine and clean clothes, footwear, and bags thoroughly. Examine and clean all clothing, including pockets, seams, Velcro fasteners, and footwear soles for dirt and organic material. Use a vacuum cleaner, brushes, and water where necessary to ensure all seeds and dirt have been removed.

Download our guide here [.pdf, 8mb]


Before and After Every Landing

It’s important to repeat the biosecurity checks and cleaning before and after every shore landing. This ensures that you don’t accidentally spread invasive species and wildlife diseases between sites, and helps make your visit truly sustainable.


Thank You!

By practicing thorough biosecurity you have played your part in protecting South Georgia.

Our Biosecurity System
It’s not just visitors who might accidentally bring invasive species to South Georgia. We also tackle biosecurity issues such as marine invasive species through to preventing the re-introduction of rats and mice to the Island with a range of innovative measures. Key among them is our Biosecurity Dog Programme.

Find out more…