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Mount Elgon Forestry Resources and Institutions Monitoring Program

[caption id="attachment_2476" align="alignleft" width="300"] Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) session for collecting socio-economic data. Mount Elgon is a unique cross-border afro-montane ecosystem between Uganda and Kenya that provides a variety of goods and services essential to human livelihoods. It is not only an important biodiversity hotspot but also a major water tower for both Uganda and Kenya, serving as a catchment area for the drainage systems of many lakes and rivers. The Mt. Elgon region supports a high population density (about 1000 people/km2), and the people are heavily dependent on both subsistence farming and the forest ecosystem for their livelihoods. It is thus an important ecosystem that needs to be conserved. However, the ability of forest managers, policy analysts, and scholars to understand the nature of the human-forest nexus and how to sustainably manage forest resources is severely hindered by the lack of clear and systematic time series social and biological data....
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LuMont – The Lusophony mountain research network meeting: a common research agenda for mountain areas in Portuguese speaking countries

LuMont, the Lusophony Mountain Research Network , met physically for the first time on October 7, 2016, in Bragança, Portugal. This was a very expected meeting since LuMont was until this date mostly a virtual network with general goals and objectives set by CIMO, the Mountain Research Centre at the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, who lead the process. The Lusophony Mountain Research Network had as goals the promotion of information flow among researchers and research institutions dedicated to mountains, and the creation of more and better opportunities for research partnerships, projects, grants, educational programmes, and other initiatives. Apparently modest, this is not an easy goal to achieve due to the spread of the researchers in the network over a number of countries in several continents and the diverse economic and development contexts where research takes place. [caption id="attachment_2461" align="alignleft" width="300"] Participants at the LuMont meeting in Bragança, Portugal, October 7 2016. LuMont...
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‘Academic conference tourism’ allows delegates to understand mountain issues first hand

Introduction [caption id="attachment_2446" align="alignleft" width="300"] Street scene, road into Moshi I have had the privilege to visit many unusual places by attending research conferences, an activity I jokingly call ‘academic tourism’.  Perhaps the Mt Kili-AfroMont mountain research conference could be considered an ‘academic tourism’ event in that, as well as the science meeting, it gave delegates an opportunity to see and share information about a rural African mountain landscape at first hand. The Mt Kili-AfroMont conference was held in a worth locality, Moshi (pop.185 000), a small town in Tanzania, within sight of massive Mt Kilimanjaro (5895 masl).  Moshi itself is a bustling rural town, well-organised, but shabby as so many towns in Africa are. Yet, Moshi roars with life 24 hours a day, demonstrating that Africa can out-shop, out-trade, out-party and out-public transport everyone else, despite unruly traffic flows of battered vehicles, swarms of motorbikes, and potholes in the roads....
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Ecological Calendars and Climate Adaptation in the Pamirs

What are Ecological Calendars? [caption id="attachment_2436" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. ECCAP Logo, designed by Navajo Artist, Natani Notah, and Karim-Aly Kassam. Calendars enable us to anticipate future conditions and plan activities. Ecological calendars keep track of time by observing seasonal changes in our habitat (Fig. 1). The nascence of a flower, emergence of an insect, arrival of a migratory bird, breakup of ice, or last day of snow cover - each is a useful cue for livelihood activities, such as sowing crops, gathering plants, herding animals, hunting, fishing, or observing cultural festivals. [caption id="attachment_2435" align="alignright" width="300"] Figure 2. Gathering fodder in Guddara. Photo: Karim-Aly Kassam. Many human communities have developed unique and reliable systems to recognize and respond to climatic variability (Fig. 2). Over the course of multiple generations living in particular landscapes, people have accumulated knowledge of the relational timing of celestial, meteorological and ecological phenomena. Historically, these diverse ecological...
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Poleka Kasue Mountain Observatory, Los Nevados Natural Park, Colombia

[caption id="attachment_2405" align="alignleft" width="300"] Lupinus alopecuroides and Senecio isabelis individuals on a steep slope in the Lupinus Valley, north face of Poleka Kasue/Santa Isabel Nevado. In the heart of the Colombian Andes lies the magical Los Nevados Natural Park, one of the few places on Earth that has the unique and fascinating páramo ecosystem. The páramo is home to a great variety of plants and wildlife, many of them endemic to this environment. Hundreds of people live in Los Nevados, thousands of tourists visit the park every year, and a million people drink from its waters in the lowlands. The overwhelming peacefulness and beauty of the park immediately enchants. Unfortunately, we have seen changes in Los Nevados that have made us question how we can preserve something we do not fully understand. We began a research initiative, the Poleka Kasue Mountain Observatory, to preserve the valuable páramo ecosystem and to make...
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P3: People, Pollution, and Pathogens— Mountain Ecosystems in a Human-Altered World

Trouble in Paradise [caption id="attachment_2382" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Lake Acherito (Ibon Acherito) on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The lake harbors several amphibian species, including the endemic Calotriton asper. It is located at 1900 m elevation, and is the first site in the Pyrenees for which Bd was reported. We just had arrived in the French Pyrenees. The beauty of the Pyrenees was stunning, somehow reminiscent of the mighty Canadian Rockies in its wildness and remoteness. We marveled at the sharp peaks, clear waters and wonderfully green vegetation, and pondered the multitude of research threads we could explore in such a setting. As we discussed our priorities, a colleague mentioned Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This unpronounceable jumble of letters represents one of the most devastating amphibian diseases, and perhaps the single biggest threat to frogs, toads and salamanders. Bd, our colleague told us, had taken hold in the beautiful mountain watersheds...
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NILE-NEXUS: Opportunities for a Sustainable Food-Energy-Water Future in the Blue Nile Mountains of Ethiopia

[caption id="attachment_2361" align="alignleft" width="219"] Figure 1. Waterfall in the Blue Nile Mountains. Photo: Jose Molina. I first met Belay Simane at a United Nations negotiation in Germany. We were both on government delegations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and during one of the many, many procedural delays we struck up conversation. It turned out neither of us were full-time negotiators. In fact, we were both researchers, and we were both looking at the same place but from very different scales. Belay is an agronomist, and he’d spent years working with farming communities of the Blue Nile Mountains of Ethiopia to advance household and village level climate resilience. I am a climate scientist and hydrologist, and I’d been working with NASA to study transboundary flows across the Nile basin with satellites and regional models. Over several cups of overpriced conference hall coffee, we began a discussion that has...
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Ecological and Socioeconomic Impacts of Climate-Induced Tree Diebacks in Highland Forests

Background [caption id="attachment_2340" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Entomologists sampling stands of Norway spruce dieback in the Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany. Photo: Heiner M.-Elsner. Mountain forests play a major role in the preservation of biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services such as climate regulation. However, some of these forests show extensive tree mortality (“forest diebacks”) caused by a combination of factors, such as severe and recurrent summer drought, pollution, and insect and pathogen outbreaks. Some of the most spectacular cases of forest diebacks are caused by bark beetle outbreaks, which have killed millions of hectares of conifer forests worldwide (Fig. 1). Forest diebacks are expected to become more widespread, frequent and severe. Indeed, warm and dry climate conditions increase the number of bark beetle generations per year and decrease tree vigor. Diebacks are accompanied by changes in tree species composition, which can happen either by natural regeneration or by artificial replacement...
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A field guide that unravels the hidden secrets of the páramo

[caption id="attachment_2315" align="alignleft" width="300"] Monitoring of meteorological variables in the Quinuas River Ecohydrological Observatory. (Photo credit: Galo Carrillo-Rojas) Can you imagine transporting to a magic realm full of beauty, nature and good vibe and being able to unravel its hidden secrets? Well, in the field guide attached to this post you will be taken to a short journey through two Ecohydrological Observatories in the páramo, where a bunch of enthusiastic and motivated young researchers have overcome the struggles of the environmental conditions in these sites located at the top of the Andean mountain range to discover its most hidden secrets. These pioneer investigators have provided answers to some simple but highly relevant questions in our days, such as: How much does it rain in the páramo? How does elevation influence climate in the Andean Highlands? How much do soils and vegetation evapotranspire? What is the origin, age and fate of water...
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Naubise farmer finds relief in climate smart practices

[caption id="attachment_2301" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sita Neupane showcases her freshly harvested cucumbers grown without the use of chemical pesticides. (Ramdeo Sah/CEAPRED) Farmer Sita Neupane is the talk of the town this summer. Ms Neupane earned a whopping NPR 70,000, selling cucumbers from her vegetable patch that roughly spans 375 square metres. And, she did it all without using any chemical pesticides on her vegetable farm in Naubise, Mahadevstan-7 of Kavre Palanchowk District, Nepal. Ms Neupane attributes her success solely to Jholmal – a homemade bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticide. Naubise, like many other villages in Kavre, is known for a high incidence of pesticide use. As with many mountain farmers across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, farmers here own small land parcels, rely heavily on chemical pesticides, and have limited knowledge about integrated pest management (IPM). A dry spell hit Kavre, last year. No rain fell in September, and the largely agricultural district suffered...
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