Climate Change, Unsustainable Farming Practices, Commercial Mining, Logging and Poaching All Exact a Heavy Toll on Mountain Biodiversity

International Mountain Day – 11 December 2020

7 December 2020 (FAO)* — Where are half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots?

Where can one find thousands of varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, animal breeds, fish, honey, insects and fungi?

Where are one-third of plant species found?

The answer: mountains!

Mountain biodiversity is the theme of this year’s International Mountain Day, which is celebrated on 11 December.

International Mountain Day 2020 is a day to celebrate the rich biodiversity in mountains as well as to address the threats it faces.

Mountains loom large in some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Their unique topography, compressed climatic zones and isolation have created the conditions for a wide spectrum of life forms.

Biodiversity encompasses the variety of ecosystems, species and genetic resources and mountains have many endemic varieties. The differentiated topography in terms of altitude, slope and exposure in mountains offers opportunities to grow a variety of high-value crops, horticulture, livestock and forest species.

For example, mountain pastoralists in Pakistan have a highly treasured livestock genetic resource pool with special traits bred into animals, such as disease resilience, which can help adaption to changing climate. Nearly 70 percent of mountain land is used for grazing and provides manure that enhances soil fertility. Livestock not only produces food items such as milk, butter and meat, but also valuable by-products such some of the most precious yarns, like cashmere wool.

However, climate change, unsustainable farming practices, commercial mining, logging and poaching all exact a heavy toll on mountain biodiversity. In addition, land use and land cover change, and natural disasters, accelerate biodiversity loss and contribute to creating a fragile environment for mountain communities. Ecosystem degradation, loss of livelihoods and migration in mountains can lead to the abandonment of cultural practices and ancient traditions that have sustained biodiversity for generations.

The sustainable management of mountain biodiversity has been increasingly recognized as a global priority. Sustainable Development Goal 15 target four is dedicated to the conservation of mountains’ biodiversity in consideration of its global relevance.

Biodiversity in all ecosystems is in focus, as the United Nations has declared 2021 to 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and governments prepare to negotiate the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adoption this year at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

In the coming months, we will prepare communication materials in all six UN languages, which will be available on our website. Hard copies will be available upon request.

While mountain biodiversity is the suggested theme for 2020, countries, communities and organizations are welcome to celebrate International Mountain Day through a theme that is more relevant to their situation.

What can you do?

•    Raise awareness of mountains on 11 December by organizing forums, hands-on activities, presentations, student debates, photo and art competitions, hikes and events targeted to specific age groups – especially youth.
•    Write to us about the International Mountain Day event you are planning at so we can publish it on the International Mountain Day website.
•    Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MountainsMatter. Pass on some of the key messages or share about the biodiversity in the mountains near you. Post a photo of your favourite mountain moment and share it with us and your friends.


2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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