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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 of Venezuela,...
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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 management as...
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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 vanishA 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 zone and settled there,...
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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 substantial amount of...
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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) funding from...
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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. Pictured: Workshop participants visit a treeline site in the Pyrenees (here with a view on Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park). Photo: Dave CairnsIn 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...
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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) are written...
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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, with representatives of the Women’s High Mountain Group of the French...
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A story of hotspots and stepping stones

[caption id="attachment_2683" align="alignright" width="300"] A typical subarctic mountain trail, winding through a blueberry field (Vaccinium myrtillus).Predicting the faith of exotic plant species in cold-climate mountainsAbisko, a small village north of the polar circle in Swedish Lapland. The origin of several mountain trails, winding through the pristine subarctic vegetation towards the breathtaking views at the top. A vegetation mostly consisting of slow-growing mosses and dwarf shrubs that seem to have been there forever. Yet during the last few years or decades, changes in this vegetation increasingly start to become apparent: several new species that are traditionally not a part of the subarctic vegetation are popping up along the trails. Clovers, common yarrow, sweetgrass or annual meadow grass, species that are typical residents of the milder parts of Europe, are now getting a foothold even here, in the high north. They border the trails, grow in the roadsides, line the buildings at the...
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Into the Hidden Valley: On a Quest for High Mountain Data

[caption id="attachment_2673" align="alignright" width="300"] Collecting snow samples to analyze black carbon deposition on Rikha Samba (Photo: Chytapten Sherpa/ Expedition team) I assume most glaciologists would have interesting stories to share about their work: the experience of studying glaciers, their research findings, and their line of work in general. But while we’re in the field, carrying on a conversation is last thing on our minds.  Most recently, I travelled to Rikha Samba for the annual 2016 autumn expedition along with two of my senior colleagues. Three other researchers from our national project partners: two from Kathmandu University, and one from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, the Government of Nepal were also with us. We set out in early October when the winter cold hadn’t yet set in. Our main objective was to monitor the glacier mass balance stake network, conduct a differential Global Positioning System (dGPS) survey of attitudinal and cross-sectional...
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