Mountains store much of the world’s freshwater supply and billions rely on it for survival. Yet environmental problems have caused glaciers to reduce or disappear altogether, thus disrupting downstream communities’ access to their essential source of drinking water.
Research into ecosystem services in mountains has increased significantly in recent decades, due to it becoming more policy-focused and taking into account institutional responses such as protected areas or market-based schemes.
1. Stay on the Trail
Hikers, walkers and bikers enjoy hiking the many paths, routes and trails across the United States every day. Staying on established trails can be one of the best ways we can protect our mountains as staying on them reduces impact to the land – imagine 10,000 people going into a mountain all following different paths – each step would leave their mark, yet sticking together on one pre-established trail could minimize footprint impact significantly.
Opting for short cuts on trails or venturing off-trail can lead to erosion, damage to vegetation and wildlife habitat, and compromise the integrity of hiking environments. That is why UIAA plays such an integral role; supporting mountain communities by offering resources like this website as well as advocating for their rights in relation to landscapes they rely upon for livelihood, health and wellbeing is of immense value to this organization.
When hiking with a group, be sure that someone has navigation tools (maps, compass and/or GPS watch/offline phone app). In addition, make sure everyone knows your route. Safety items like bear spray, whistles or bells and flashlight batteries may also come in handy.
Firewood should always come from local areas; transporting it further away contributes to forest loss by diminishing their ability to sustain themselves, leading to insect invasion, disease outbreak and deforestation. By purchasing firewood locally you’re helping ensure our mountains remain healthy for future generations.
2. Donate Your Land
Donating land can be one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to ensure it will always remain protected. Donating or creating a conservation easement means giving up some or all of your property rights in exchange for promises made that it will protect and conserve it – an easy way to preserve land that could also result in federal income, estate and property tax deductions.
Mountains offer us fresh water, biodiversity and unparalleled beauty – but they can also be susceptible to human pressures and climate change impacts that already threaten mountain ecosystems globally. Melting glaciers have caused increased avalanches and floods – creating an environmental crisis which makes life harder for those living nearby – especially marginalized groups such as women and indigenous communities who rely on our mountains as their home.
Donating land or conservation easements to future generations is one of the most generous legacies you can leave them. This gift can either take effect during your lifetime, or can be planned for in your will to take effect after death. Donating land or conservation easements may be the right decision if you don’t wish to pass down your property to your heirs; own highly appreciated real estate that would bring large capital gains taxes; own substantial real estate holdings that you wish to reduce income, estate and property taxes for; or are simply fed up with managing and caring for it yourself. Giving it to NEFF or another nonprofit land trust such as Land For Good is a sure way of making sure it continues thriving for generations ahead.
Plastic waste has become an increasing global problem. Recycling old and used materials is one solution to help mitigate pollution; recycling also decreases risks associated with landfill sites which contribute significantly to environmental degradation; it prevents products being dumped directly into ocean waters thereby protecting aquatic biodiversity.
Mountain ecosystems provide us with life-sustaining water, abundant plant and animal biodiversity, spectacular beauty and are under increasing pressure due to habitat degradation. Therefore, we can draw great inspiration from this incredible organization which works tirelessly to change behaviours and safeguard mountain environments one tree at a time.
They provide educational activities and resources to promote responsible mountain use, such as their business pledge, consultancy services and community hub. All this is in an attempt to alleviate feelings of overwhelm by breaking down environmental crises into manageable chunks.
Additionally, they operate a circular ski shop and offer mountain bike repair workshops to reduce waste ending up in landfill. Not only is this good for the environment but it helps support local economies as well as reduce energy usage.
Furthermore, they collaborate with like-minded organizations such as the BMC to address access issues and promote sustainable tourism in the mountains. Through their Mend Our Mountains campaign they also raise funds to repair paths. Earlier this year they teamed up with Little Legends of Mini MRT to educate children on sustainability in the mountains – this year these young adults have also been hard at work raising awareness of our mountains’ plight in order to ensure they remain beautiful for future generations.
4. Buy Local
Climate Change is having devastating effects on mountain environments and their inhabitants worldwide, creating further instability for mountain communities living there. Rising temperatures are melting glaciers, flooding rivers, causing landslides, increasing flood risks and leading to increased flood risks – while deforestation causes erosion leading to natural disaster risks and making people’s lives harder than they should be, increasing inequality further still.
Purchase of local goods helps strengthen mountain towns and villages’ economies while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions from your holiday. Furthermore, purchasing local allows consumers to make informed choices regarding products they buy – many businesses employ renewable energy technologies that reduce their environmental impact while doing so!
Spending your money locally helps create more jobs and fortify community bonds. Furthermore, buying local also protects our mountains and the beautiful environment that encases them.
No matter what service or product you require, be it accommodation, dining out or purchasing ski gear; choosing businesses who are committed to sustainability should always be top of mind. The Montagne Verte Pacte and Green Pages provide solutions for businesses as well as individuals to reduce their environmental footprint and ensure sustainable travel experiences.
Forests across our mountains are under threat from foreign insect pests and diseases that come from abroad, making transport of firewood unnecessary; instead opt for locally sourced firewood that has been heat treated or certified; heat treated logs would also help avoid damaging our forests as much. Plastic pollution is another serious threat, which can easily be addressed by using reusable items and joining One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic movement.
Mountain ecosystems, known for their stunning natural beauty, diverse local cultures and outdoor sport opportunities, are increasingly threatened. From climate change thawing glaciers and prompting disasters like avalanches and floods, to uncontrolled deforestation leading to habitat degradation – mountain environments are at increasing risk; and their risks are being felt most heavily by communities living on mountains themselves in very disproportionate ways.
Mountain people living far from centers of power and decision-making are already at a disadvantage when it comes to education, healthcare, infrastructure access, market access and more. Their vulnerability increases further when environmental crises such as landslides or flooding caused by climate change occur leading to loss of homes and crops while risking the preservation of traditional lifestyle values and heritage values within mountain communities.
Volunteer opportunities with Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff include helping with land management activities. Agricultural monitoring supports OSMP’s understanding of soil and plant health on agricultural properties to inform sustainable decisions related to grazing and crop rotation; bat monitors head out at dusk listening for and counting bat roost sites to provide valuable data that informs resource conservation decision making processes.
Though volunteers may bring many challenges to global culture, their role cannot be denied: volunteers play a vital part in maintaining many of the most beautiful mountains on the planet – providing both natural resources and cultural heritage which must be preserved to sustain global life.