Understanding Mountain Soils: A Contribution from mountain areas to the International Year of Soils 2015
In every mountain region, soils constitute the foundation for agriculture, supporting essential ecosystem functions and food security. Mountain soils benefit not only the 900 million people living in the world’s mountainous areas but also billions more living downstream. Soil is a fragile resource that needs time to regenerate. Mountain soils are particularly susceptible to climate change, deforestation, unsustainable farming practices and resource extraction methods that affect their fertility and trigger land degradation, desertification and disasters such as floods and landslides. Mountain peoples often have a deep-rooted connection to the soils they live on; it is a part of their heritage. Over the centuries, they have developed solutions and techniques, indigenous practices, knowledge and sustainable soil management approaches which have proved to be a key to resilience. This publication, produced by the Mountain Partnership as a contribution to the International Year of Soils 2015, presents the main features of mountain soil systems, their environmental, economic and social values, the threats they are facing and the cultural traditions concerning them. Case studies provided by Mountain Partnership members and partners around the world showcase challenges and opportunities as well as lessons learned in soil management. This publication presents a series of lessons learned and recommendations to inform mountain communities, policy-makers, development experts and academics who support sustainable mountain development.