The four 'heroic-era' expedition bases have stood in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica for over a century and although Antarctica covers only an estimated 9% of the Earth's land surface, it contains more than 80% of the world's fresh water locked in its ice. It is also the driest place on the planet. While that contradiction had helped to slow the rate of decay of the bases, the bases were deteriorating.
From 1987 to 2001 annual basic maintenance was carried out but in 2001 the Trust, together with an international group of conservation/heritage experts, recognised an international conservation effort was needed to ensure these sites survived for future generations.
In 2002, HRH Princess Anne, launched the Trust’s Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project (RSHRP) in Antarctica, an international. long-term cold climate project to secure the bases and conserve the thousands of artefacts associated with the sites.
At around the same time the international community began to recognise the importance of these sites. That view was reinforced when The Getty Foundation made significant funding available for the project and the World Monuments Fund listed all four sites on their 2008 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites on Earth. They are also protected under the Antarctic Treaty System.
In 2012 the Antarctic Heritage Trust took on management responsibility for the original Trans-Antarctic Expedition building that remains at New Zealand's scientific research facility, Scott Base.