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AFRI-SKY-FOR: Saving African tropical montane forests

  Tropical montane forests are biodiversity rich and unique ecosystems. The montane forests of the Albertine Rift region in Africa, for example, contain around 7500 plant and animal species – over a thousand of which are endemic. Tropical montane forests provide numerous ecosystems services including water, food, timber, and non-timber forest products (firewood, medicinal plants, building materials), they support agricultural systems that underpin regional and lowland food security, and make a significant contribution towards income generation through tourism (such as hiking and the viewing of mountain gorillas). They also play an important role in hazard prevention, climate modulation and carbon sequestration. [caption id="attachment_2913" align="alignleft" width="300"] Mt Kahuzi (3317m) and surrounding mixed-species and bamboo forest, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Forests under threat Unfortunately, tropical montane forests are amongst the most threatened ecosystems on Earth due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth, and land use change. They remain overexploited...
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PECSii Conference - Towards a More Resilient World

[caption id="attachment_2900" align="alignright" width="300"] View of the Sierra Juarez above Oaxaca City In early November, I had the privilege of attending the second conference of the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECSii) in Oaxaca City, Mexico. For many reasons, the conference ranked among the best I have ever attended. The setting itself encompasses many of the challenges facing mountains and other social-ecological systems:  impacts from climate change, economic transformations, environmental problems and socio-political conundrums, here rooted in the legacies of Zapotec, MIxe, Mixtec and Imperial Spanish civilizations, as well as more recent human societies. PECSii participants came from around the world to present research and explore ideas that highlighted social-ecological predicaments and possibilities for constructive transformation. An Exciting Program [caption id="attachment_2901" align="alignleft" width="300"] City Street Scene - Oaxaca Sculpture in front of the Santo Domingo Cathedral The organizers used creative approaches for each of the components of the program.  We...
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Land Cover and Land Use Change in the Tropical Andes

[caption id="attachment_2862" align="alignright" width="225"] In a post-workshop field trip, participants learned about an ecological restoration project in the Ecuadorian Chocó (Photo: Kenneth Young) Land use trends are a main driver of environmental change. To explore patterns, future scenarios, and research agendas related to land cover and land use change in the Tropical Andes, an MRI synthesis workshop was held in Quito, Ecuador, 27-29 September 2017. The Tropical Andes represent a global biodiversity hotspot, and regulate environmental services such as watershed and soil protection that affect millions of people. Due to steep topography and frequent cloud cover, however, remote sensing analyses of land cover change in the region are limited to specific locations and time periods. To go some way towards addressing this, an MRI synthesis workshop was held in September 2017 in Quito, Ecuador, and attended by experts on different aspects of land science and ecosystem services working in the Andes...
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Human Needs & Wildlife Management: Pathways 2017

The 2017 Pathways Conference took place 17-20 September in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA. Pathways to Success: Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management was an international gathering of over 270 scientists, NGOs, and government agencies from 20 countries. Its theme was FUTURES , addressing the myriad of issues that arise as people and wildlife struggle to coexist in a sustainable and healthy manner. Pathways 2017 was hosted by Colorado State University in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Keynote speakers included Dan Ashe (President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums), Joel Berger (Director of a number of projects for the Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS) and Laurie Marker (Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund). In his speech, Dan Ashe called for a more integrated approach to conservation. Such an approach recognizes the human dimensions of fish and wildlife...
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Why do sika deer head to the alpine zone in Japan?

[caption id="attachment_2819" align="alignright" width="300"] Alpine meadow, Mount Kitadake 1980. The attractions of Japan’s Southern Alps include dense evergreen coniferous forests and alpine meadows full of blooming globeflowers (or Trollius japonicus ). These areas have been likened to an earthly paradise. In recent years however, sika deer have moved into this alpine zone. With them grazing on the rare plant community there is a danger that these alpine meadows, a symbol of the rich mountain environment, will disappear. Meadows vanish A questionnaire survey conducted in 1984 found that there were virtually no sika deer breeding in the northern part of the Southern Alps. Then, in the 1990s the sika deer quietly began to use the evergreen coniferous forests of Veitch's silver fir and Maries fir in the subalpine zone, as well as the Erman's birch forests and herbaceous communities. By the early 2000s the sika deer had encroached further into the subalpine...
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The cold does not bother her anyway

[caption id="attachment_2783" align="alignright" width="300"] Gunjan Silwal, 29, during a research expedition to Yala glacier. On her desk, Gunjan Silwal is engrossed in her computer, analyzing glacier mass balance data, working on figures and graphs which to the untrained eye look rather like scribblings on a toddler’s drawing book. To the trained eye, however, these are essential records of how much mass has been added or lost over the years on Yala glacier. The one she is working on is for the annual mass balance of the glacier from 2014 to 2015. When Gunjan is finally done with her analysis, she will begin to prepare for yet another field expedition to the glacier. Come April, Gunjan and her peers will head up to Yala glacier to collect spring data. Gunjan, 29, joined the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)’s Cryosphere Initiative in 2016 as a research associate. She has spent a...
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Mountain resilience: Collaborative Research matters

[caption id="attachment_2769" align="alignright" width="300"] BREAD researchers had partner meeting to share experience at CNDS, UPSALA University , in August 2017. It is probably common knowledge now that mountain ecosystems are increasingly fragile, with the poor facing the brunt of shocks from changing climate conditions. Multi-institutional humanitarian efforts have been made, but have not halted the problem; hazards still occur, threatening to reverse developments achieved over decades. The urgency for evidence-based solutions to deter such threats is thus indisputable. A project - beautifully coined BREAD, or the Partnership for Building Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods to Climate Change and Disaster Risks in Uganda - hopes to make a difference in the thinking in terms of how to address the hazard or disaster challenges faced by mountain communities. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Universities in the north (Lund and Upsala in Sweden) and south (Makerere and Gulu in Uganda) secured five year (2015-2020)...
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MRI Synthesis Workshop on Treeline Spatial Patterns

Most mountain inhabitants and visitors will have clear mental images of the alpine treeline, the conspicuous transition from forest to treeless alpine vegetation. These images are likely to be as varied across the globe as the actual variation in form and landscape positions that can be observed between sites and mountain ranges. These spatial patterns can provide insights in what makes each treeline unique and in what makes some of them similar enough to allow generalised predictions about their dynamics. In a recent workshop, held near the Pyrenees between 31 August and 5 September 2017, nine treeline researchers gathered to discuss how this global variation in spatial patterns at treelines from the subarctic to the tropics can be captured, quantified and used to predict dynamics at different treeline sites. Photo by Dave Cairns Pictured here, the workshop participants visit a treeline site in the Pyrenees (here with a view on Ordesa...
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Sustainable Tourism in the Daisetsuzan National Park

[caption id="attachment_2725" align="alignright" width="300"] Fig. 1: Mount Asahi-dake (2,291 m), the highest peak in DNP, in the foreground, and the Ohachi-daira caldera in the center (Photo: TW) Daisetsuzan National Park (DNP), located in central Hokkaido, a northernmost island of Japan, is Japan’s largest national park (226,764 hectares). Residents in the city of Sapporo with 2 million populations can access the park area in 2.5 to 3 hours by car, and can enjoy hiking/trekking and hot springs in the park’s volcanic landscape (Fig. 1). In spite of its close location to such a large city and in site of the large number of visitors, DNP is home to densely populated brown bears. New challenges are now emerging and addressed in DNP. Among them are offering learning opportunities to visitors and involving local stakeholders in the park management. However, most information is available only in Japanese, as most research publications (>2,800 in total)...
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An All-Woman Climbing Team in the Andes

[caption id="attachment_2716" align="alignright" width="300"] Ascending Chachacomani (source: Griselda Moreno) Mujer Montaña—“Woman Mountain” in Spanish—participated in a recent project of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation ( UIAA ), in which women climbers from Latin America and Europe carried out ascents of peaks in two mountain ranges in the Bolivian Andes. They established mountaineering records, achieving first all-female ascents and opening new routes. They met another goal as well,  promoting exchanges between people of different cultures and worldviews. And, in their distinctive way, they built awareness of mountains in the context of climate change—a key goal of the UIAA’s  Mountain Protection Award Platform , which supported the project. This post was originally posted last year on the  GlacierHub.org  by Ben Orlove. This  project , supported by a number of government agencies and tourism firms in South America and Europe, brought together the members of Mujer Montaña, a Latin American group founded in 2013,...
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