International Mountain Day: How are they under threat

International Mountain Day: How are they under threat

NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Be it the snow-capped peaks of the majestic Himalayas or the volcanic beauty of Mount Fuji, mountains are some of the most fascinating landscapes in the world. They are home to 15per cent of the world´s population and host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots. The United Nations marks December 11 as International Mountain day to encourage sustainable development in mountains.

Let us take a look at why they are so important for the planet and what threatens them the most.

History of International Mountain Day
The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN to declare 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. The first international day was celebrated for the first time the following year, 2003.

Its roots date back to 1992, when the document “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” (called Chapter 13), was adopted as part of the action plan Agenda 21 of the Conference on Environment and Development.

Mount FujiMount Fuji with cherry blossom at Lake Kawaguchiko in Japan. Photo: Shutterstock

Why is Mountain Day celebrated?
On International Mountain Day, all mountain and nature lovers engage in discussions on how and act on how to best conserve the fragile mountain environment - it's flora and fauna.

How are mountains under threat and how does that impact us
The world's most spectacular landscapes are facing threats in every way. Climate change and global warming, bad farming practices, logging, commercial mining and poaching are taking a heavy toll on mountain biodiversity. Plastic pollution is also threatening the fragile environment. As the global climate continues to warm, mountain people — some of the world’s poorest — face even greater struggles to survive. The rising temperatures also mean that mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, affecting freshwater supplies downstream for millions of people.

What can be done to protect mountains
Sustainable management of mountain biodiversity has been increasingly recognised as a global priority. Sustainable Development Goal 15, target four, is dedicated to the conservation of mountains’ biodiversity in consideration of its global relevance. The United Nations has declared 2021 to 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Governments across the globe have been asked to prepare to negotiate the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adopting this year at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

International Mountain Day 2020 theme
Mountain biodiversity is the theme of International Mountain Day 2020.

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. However, 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.

Key facts about Mountains
* Mountains cover about 27 per cent of the earth's surface
* Mountains have around half of the biodiversity hotspots
* 30 per cent of all key biodiversity areas are in the mountains
* Many of the world's crops and livestock species originate in mountains
* Mountain biodiversity provides food, medicinal plants as well as maintain water, soil, air quality

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