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Course 2011: "Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Management in Mountain Areas"


Mountains are hazardous places. Many mountain communities live under the threat of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by shifting tectonic plates. Gravity pushing down on sloping land compounds the destructive power of storms and heavy rains, producing avalanches, landslides and floods. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios, it is very likely that heavy precipitation will become more frequent and that future storms will become more intense. These outcomes will make mountain regions even more hazardous to live in.

Mountain ecosystems are increasingly degraded also for socio-economic reasons. As mountain populations have grown and the expansion of commercial agriculture has reduced the availability of arable land for small-scale farming by local communities, impoverished farmers have had to clear marginal lands on steep slopes unsuited to agriculture. More and more animals graze on mountain pastures and forested land. This overgrazing destroys ground cover and compacts the soil. Traditional agricultural systems have been abandoned or become unsustainable. Commercial logging interests and market-driven agricultural production have also put dangerous pressure on mountain ecosystems. All of this can lead to permanent deforestation and irreversible environmental degradation. The loss of forest cover deprives mountain communities of a protective barrier against landslides and avalanches and further contributes to increased soil erosion and water run-off.


The overall purpose of the fourth summer IPROMO course is to provide post-graduate students, researchers and technicians with scientific knowledge about natural hazards in mountain areas, the high vulnerability of mountain communities and to enhance their ability to assess potential ecological and social impacts of disaster risk management policies. It is aimed at those coming from areas characterized by degraded and overexploited mountain ecosystems in particular from developing countries.

The course will focus on specific hazards (slope instabilities and landslides, shallow soil movements, floods including glacial lake outburst floods, wildfires, avalanches and snow hazards and earthquakes) and examples of natural hazard protection (sustainable agriculture, pasture and forestry practices, policies on disaster risk management, early warning systems capacity building and awareness raising) as well as emergency and rehabilitation. It will also focus on how policy makers, UN negotiation processes and others involved in disaster risk management cannot afford to neglect mountains.

Structure and Venue

The course will be held from 9 to 22 July 2011 with 15 days of full immersion learning. It will include lectures, practice, labs, and field trips. The course will be mainly held in Ormea Piedmont Region, Lecturers will include university professors, UN officers and professionals from different parts of the world.

Click here for the provisional schedule of the course.

Basic information


Scientific Director: Prof. Ermanno Zanini - DI.VA.P.R.A. Faculty of Agriculture - University of Torino, Italy. 

Mountain Partnership Secretariat: Rosalaura Romeo, FAO, Rome. 

Official language for the course: English

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