For the purpose of this project, the following definitions have been used for collecting and interpreting data:


Mountains are defined according to the definition provided by UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) which divides mountains in 6 elevation classes:  

  • Class 1: elevation ≥ 4 500 m
  • Class 2: elevation 3 500–4 500 m
  • Class 3: elevation 2 500–3 500 m
  • Class 4: elevation 1 500–2 500 m and slope ≥ 2°
  • Class 5: elevation 1 000–1 500 m and slope ≥ 5° or LER > 300 m
  • Class 6: elevation 300–1 000 m and LER > 300 m


Mountain ranges have been provided by GMBA and therefore align with their definition.


Mountain chains are defined according to the definition provided by the American Geological Institute which described them as a complex, connected series of several more or less parallel mountain ranges and mountain systems grouped together without regard to similarity of form, structure, and origin, but having a general longitudinal arrangement or well-defined trend


Indigenous people are defined according to the internationally agreed criteria on which the FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples is based which uses the following criteria: 1) Priority in time, with respect to occupation and use of a specific territory; 2) The voluntary perpetuation of cultural distinctiveness, which may include aspects of language, social organization, religion and spiritual values, modes of production, laws and institutions; 3) Self-identification, as well as recognition by other groups, or by State authorities, as a distinct collectivity; and 4) an experience experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination, whether or not these conditions persist. Since this database focuses on Indigenous Mountain Peoples this sub-group has to respect also all three of the following criteria: 1) Live or spend at least part of the year on a mountain or highland area; 2) Structure their traditional food systems around mountain ecosystems; 3) Have a clear connection between their collective identity and a mountain or range.


Main Food Production Systems are defined as the main activities that relate to the production of food (agriculture, pastoralism, hunting and fishing) by an indigenous or local mountain community.


Organizations are the organizations working with one or more indigenous or local mountain communities.


Main Crops, Livestock and Fish are the main crops, livestock and fish farmed, hunted or fished by an indigenous or local mountain community.


Other relevant information concerning indigenous and local communities including some of the customs and traditions that characterize a community, the main ethnic group represented in the community, some key historical facts that defined the community and the most common language spoken by the community.


Estimated population is an estimate of the indigenous or local mountain community’s population. It is mainly based on available census data.


Please, be aware that a number of local, national and regional terms are used to describe indigenous peoples, including tribes, ethnic minorities, natives, indigenous nationalities, First Nations, aboriginals, indigenous communities, hill peoples and highland peoples.

Home > mountain-partnership > Definitions