Introduction: The International Year of Mountains Challenge and Opportunity for Mountain Research

  • Thomas Hofer
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 23)


Mountains are complex and fragile ecosystems characterised by vertically, highly differentiated climatic conditions and often by an abundance of water and rich biodiversity. Mountains are high-risk environments: avalanches, glacial lake outbursts, landslides and earthquakes threaten life in mountain areas. Remoteness and difficult access hamper development in mountain regions. Therefore, mountain areas are often marginalized. Despite these constraints, mountains offer significant opportunities. Mountain dwellers have adapted to life in steep and harsh conditions and have developed sophisticated techniques for farming, water use, forestry and communication. The agro-biodiversity as a function of altitude, exposition and farmers’ crop selection is huge. Mountain inhabitants have also developed a rich cultural diversity. Therefore, people living in lowland areas or in big cities increasingly prefer mountains for recreation.


Global Change Mountain Area Mountain Region Household Food Security Mountain Ecosystem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AMBIO (2002). The Abisko Agenda: Research for mountain area development. A contribution to the United Nations Year of Mountains 2002. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  2. FAO (2000). International Year of Mountains: Concept paper. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, 30pp.Google Scholar
  3. Gichuki, F. N., Liniger, H. P., MacMillan, L., Schwilch, G., and Gikonyo, G. (1998). Scarce water: Exploring resource availability, use and improved management. In “Resources, actors and policies — towards sustainable regional development.” Eastern and Southern Africa Journal 8, 15–28.Google Scholar
  4. Harris, C., Haeberli, W., Vonder Mühll, D., King, L. (2001). Permafrost monitoring in the high mountains of Europe: The PACE Project in its global context. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 12, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Huddleston, B., Ataman, E., and Fed’Ostiani, L. (2003). “Towards a GIS-based analysis of mountain environments and populations.” Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper 10. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  6. Jeanneret, F., Wastl-Walter, D., and Wiesmann, U. (2003). Welt der Alpen — Gebirge der Welt: Ressourcen, Akteure, Perspektiven. Jahrbuch der Geografischen Gesellschaft Bern 61.Google Scholar
  7. Jenny, A. L., and Egal, F. (2002). Household food security and nutrition in mountain areas: An often forgotten story. Nutrition Programmes Service, FAO-ESNP.Google Scholar
  8. Keane, R. E., Morgan, P., and Running, S. W. (1996). “FIRE-BGC: A mechanistic ecological process model for simulating fire succession on coniferous forest landscapes of the northern Rocky Mountains.” USDA Forest Service Research Paper INT-RP-484, 122 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Mark, B. G., and Seltzer, G. O. (2003). Tropical glacial meltwater contribution to stream discharge: A case study in the Cordillera Bianca, Peru. Journal of Glaciology.Google Scholar
  10. Petr, T. (2003). “Mountain fisheries in developing countries.” FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  11. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (2002). Eine Welt 4, December 2002.Google Scholar
  12. Thompson, L. G. (2000). Ice core evidence for climate change in the Tropics: Implications for our future. Quaternary Science Reviews 19, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. UNEP/WCMC (2002). Mountain Watch. Environmental change and sustainable development in mountains. UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  14. UNGA(2004). Resolution A/RES/58/216 on Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions, adopted by the General Assembly. United Nations Headquarters, New York.Google Scholar
  15. UNITED NATIONS (1992). Earth Summit: Agenda 21. The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio. 3–14 June 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 294 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Villeneuve, A., Castelein, A., and Mekouar, M.A. (2002). Mountains and the law: Emerging trends. FAO Legislative Study 75. Rome.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Hofer
    • 1
  1. 1.Sustainable Mountain DevelopmentUN Food and Agriculture OrganizationRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations