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Species on the move

[caption id="attachment_2601" align="alignright" width="300"] Recent climate change is affecting a fragile balance, and the ball just started rollingThe world’s climate is changing rapidly. There, I said it! A statement backed by scientific evidence that keeps piling up, day by day. Yet, what is perhaps even more important: the impact of this changing climate on our world are now undeniably starting to surface as well. From the damaging effect of extreme weather events, over the slow-yet-steady rise of sea levels to the changes in the distribution of countless species; climate change is happening under our very eyes.Concerning the latter, an impressive recent review in Science (Pecl et al., 2017) has bundled all these observed biodiversity redistributions, highlighting why we should care about them. And that last fact might be even more interesting, because at first sight, it might be not more than a scientific triviality if organisms are heading north or up in the mountains.[caption id="attachment_2603"...
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The Mountains 2018 Conference

Mountains 2018 is an international conference that will bring together scholars, professionals, policy makers and others involved with multiple aspects of the mountain world. The Conference seeks to stimulate and disseminate knowledge about the topic based on lessons learned from scientific research and practical experiences related to use and challenges of promoting sustainable development in mountain territories, including how mountains can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Mountains 2016, the first of the series, occurred in Bragança, Portugal (http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/mountains2016/). One of the outcomes of this event was the launching of the Lusophony Mountain Research Network – Lumont  (http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/LuMont/index.php/pt/) to encourage exchange among Portuguese speaking members. The establishment of this network provided additional support for Brazil to organize the next Conference. As a result, Mountains 2018 will take place, in Nova Friburgo, located in the mountain region of the state of Rio de Janeiro, on December 11th-15th.In Nova Friburgo, high-altitude tropical climate...
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Conservation Award for Africa

[caption id="attachment_2558" align="alignright" width="300"] Ian Little, receiving the award from HRM Princess AnnDr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust receives 2017 Whitley AwardDr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), seen here receiving his Whitley award from HRM Princess Ann, was one of the prestigious winners this year for his determined efforts to protect grasslands in South Africa. Ian is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation.Grasslands are the most endangered vegetation type in South Africa because this is where most of the agriculture, mining and urban development has taken place. The work of Dr Little focuses on several threatened species and their habitats which include the Wattled Crane, the Yellow-breasted Pipit, Rudd’s Lark, the White–bellied Korhaan and others. Over the next five years, Dr Little...
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Creating ClimateWIse

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Goat traffic on the voyage from Lima to the town of HuamantangaAfter a gripping five-hour drive, winding over skinny mountain roads through goat traffic, we arrive in the tiny town of Huamantanga (Fig. 1). The water that flows through this town eventually ends up in Lima, Peru, and Huamantanga is one of the first community partners to work with AquaFondo - Lima’s water fund. Like other water funds, AquaFondo works with rural communities to support watershed conservation and restoration to secure clean and ample water supplies for both up and downstream water users. It turns out the community of Huamantanga and the city of Lima have one major thing in common: they both face water shortages in the dry season.Building on the work of a local NGO, Alternativa, AquaFondo, CONDESAN, and Huamantanguinos came up with two innovative solutions. First, they’re restoring ancient pre-Incan in ltration...
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Two new research organizations in mountain studies have been established in Japan during the cherry blossom season

April might be the most important month in the Japanese year, not only because of the cherry blossom season but for starting a new semester. In April 2017, two new research organizations have been established regarding mountain studies in Japan - “Master degree program of mountain studies” and “Mountain Science Center (MSC)”. After a Japanese Alps inter-university Cooperation Project (JALPS) in 2010-2014, the scientists involved sought to establish an educational and research framework to coordinate and activate mountain studies in Japan.  After tremendous efforts for agreements among universities and negotiation with the ministry of education, science, culture, sports and technology, the two functions were finally approved by the University of Tsukuba.[caption id="attachment_2502" align="alignleft" width="300"] (Fig. 1) Kick-off symposium of MSC (March 21, 2017)The master degree program is composed of multiple science fields related to the mountain sciences through the collaboration of four national universities: the University of Tsukuba, Shinshu University, Shizuoka...
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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 andsystematic time series social and biological data.The International Forestry...
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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 was launched in...
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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 MoshiI 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.Conference speakers...
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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, andKarim-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 calendars enabled communities to...
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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 slopein 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 the magnificence...
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