Early in 2021, a call for proposals as part of the MRI Synthesis Workshops seed funding programme was issued. A total of eight proposals fulfilled the requirements for further consideration. Of these, two proposals were selected for funding. The first addresses mapping vegetation using high-resolution remote sensing. The second focuses on building a regional network to study carbon dynamics in peatlands along the Andes.

As part of our commitment to support our research community to advance key research questions relevant for knowledge on social-ecological systems in mountains, the MRI continues to make small grants available for MRI Synthesis Workshops. Together with MRI Working Groups, these workshops are part of current MRI Community-Led Activities, which are those activities led primarily by researchers and supported by the MRI Coordination Office through seed funding, and administrative and communications assistance.

MRI Synthesis Workshops are intended to bring together global change researchers to address specific topics of interest to the mountain research community, with the objective of producing synthesis products such as articles for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals or the compilation of relevant data into publishable datasets or databases. For the 2021 call, the MRI Coordination Office received eight proposals that met the conditions for funding support, from which two were selected. Due to the ongoing complex situation around the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the activities planned for these Synthesis Workshops are due to take place in 2022. 

Linking key global change issues across mountains

The two proposals selected cover topics that are not only pertinent in the current landscape of knowledge needs around issues such as climate change and resource use, but also apply novel synthesis approaches and methodologies that are inter- and transdisciplinary. Furthermore, they address key funding criteria in relation to balance in gender, career status, and cultural diversity among participants, as well as participation from researchers from developing countries. Of equal importance to the review committee is ensuring that these activities also foster promising models of interregional exchange and collaboration from which to learn, including South-South collaborations. 

The two successful workshops are:

1. Mapping mountain vegetation from above using very-high-resolution remote sensing: Challenges in global data access and image classification

Nishtha Prakash, Johanna Toivonen de Gonzales, and Maaike Bader (Philipps University, Marburg, Germany).

Prakash and colleagues will convene a diverse and interdisciplinary workshop in which to look into both elevational shifts of vegetation bands and local shifts of vegetation patches using very-high-resolution remote sensing (i.e., with spatial resolutions < 0.5 m), in particular in the fine-grained alpine vegetation above the closed forest. The workshop will seek to address two specific challenges that the use of EO prospects face: the availability of and access to these data, and the analysis of the images in terms of recognising and delineating specific and diverse vegetation types. The workshop is expected to make contributions to the Global Network for Observations and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO Mountains), whilst also fostering a community-of-practice and building capacity and expertise in the use of EO resources for application in mountain-specific settings and knowledge needs. The workshop is expected to take place in a mountain location in Europe towards mid-2022. 

2. Building a regional network to study carbon dynamics in cushion peatlands along the Andes

Mary Carolina García Lino (University of Halle, Germany & Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia), Alejandra Domic (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Isabell Hensen (University of Halle, Germany), and Arely N. Palabral Aguilera (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia).

Given how peatlands are one of the largest terrestrial stores of carbon (C), and peatlands changing from C sinks to C sources is becoming increasingly relevant under conditions of climate change, García and colleagues will convene a workshop in which to discuss and account for the state of knowledge on C dynamics, specifically in less-known cushion peatlands along the entire length of the Andes. Through this workshop, they seek to develop a standardized methodology to study the C dynamics of these peatlands in a globally-relevant, comparable, and feasible way, whilst also engaging with social scientists and humanities experts and local practitioners to look at the broader social context in which conservation and management practices also play a role on these C dynamics. Furthermore, the network will seek to provide pertinent inputs to the monitoring practices needed to inform conservation and the restoration efforts of these ecosystems. The workshop is expected to take place in Bolivia towards the second half of 2022. 

More details regarding these workshops, and calls for participation, will be announced early in 2022.

We at the MRI Coordination Office take this opportunity to congratulate the teams behind these successful proposals and wish them all the very best in realizing their planned activities. We look forward to reporting on their progress and the important contributions they are making to synthesis knowledge of our changing mountains in 2022.

Call for MRI Synthesis Workshops 2022

The next call for MRI Synthesis Workshop proposals will be issued towards the end of the first quarter of 2022. Keep an eye on our website and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates. To learn more about past workshops, and general funding eligibility and conditions, please visit the MRI Synthesis Workshops page of our website.

MRI's financial support for synthesis workshops is made available thanks to the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) and the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

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Cover image by Nguyen Dung.

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