Mountain biodiversity


Mountains loom large in some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes.
Their unique topography, compressed climatic zones and isolation have created the conditions for a wide spectrum of life forms.

Half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains and mountains support approximately one-quarter of terrestrial biological diversity. Mountains are home to rare species of plants and animals. These include increasingly rare animals such as gorillas, mountain lions, and the majestic tahr or strikingly beautiful plants such as orchids and lobelias.

A large portion of the world's most precious gene pools (for agriculture and medicine) are preserved in mountains. Crops that are important for food security, such as maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, tomatoes and apples, have been diversified in mountains and an array of domestic animals - sheep, goats, yaks, llamas and alpacas - have originated or been diversified in mountains. Other crops, such as wheat, rye, rice, oats and grapes, have found new homes in the mountains and evolved into many varieties. Coffee and tea, with their roots in Ethiopia and the Himalayan region, are mountain crops as well. Medicinal plants are one of the most valuable resources from high altitudes. This rich biodiversity holds cultural, ecological and economic value. In the Andes, for example, farmers know of as many as 200 different varieties of Indigenous Peoples' potatoes and, in Nepal, they farm approximately 2 000 varieties of rice.

Climate change, poverty, commercial mining, logging and poaching all exact a heavy toll on mountain biodiversity. The sustainable management of mountain biodiversity has increasingly been recognized as a global priority. The Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a Programme of Work on Mountain Biological Diversity in 2004, which includes a set of actions and targets addressing characteristics and problems that are specific to mountain ecosystems. 

Sixth GROW training concludes, innovation contest winner announced

Sixth GROW training concludes, innovation contest winner announced

news

Ysa Calderón from Peru has won the 2023 GROW Agrobiodiversity in a Changing Climate innovation contest. Her project aims to protect biodiversity and addresses threats to pollinators such as climate change, pesticides and deforestation. The project emphasizes supporting women.

The annual GROW course “Agrobiodiversity in a changing climate” closed on...

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Mountains cited five times in key COP 28 final document

Mountains cited five times in key COP 28 final document

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Following the efforts of many Mountain Partnership government members, mountains were included in the global stocktake text. The document includes five mentions of mountains and an official request for dialogue on mountains and climate change at the 60th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in...

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Sharing knowledge throughout the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Good practices for the restoration of mountain ecosystems

Sharing knowledge throughout the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Good practices for the restoration of mountain ecosystems

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To support and scale up efforts to restore degraded ecosystems worldwide, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2021–2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UN Decade), co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). To help achieve...

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Restoring mountain ecosystems - Challenges, case studies and recommendations for implementing the UN Decade Principles for Mountain Ecosystem Restoration

Restoring mountain ecosystems - Challenges, case studies and recommendations for implementing the UN Decade Principles for Mountain Ecosystem Restoration

publication

Mountains are home to a variety of ecosystems that provide vital services directly to 1.1 billion people and billions of others living in connected lowland areas. Half of humanity depends on mountains for the provision of freshwater alone. Mountain ecosystems cool local temperatures, increase water retention, provide carbon storage, and...

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COP28: FAO marks International Mountain Day 2023 with focus on restoring ecosystems

COP28: FAO marks International Mountain Day 2023 with focus on restoring ecosystems

news

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today marked International Mountain Day 2023 with a high-level meeting at the UN Climate Conference COP28 in Dubai and the launch of a report that offers recommendations and uplifting examples of successful mountain ecosystems' restoration projects.

International Mountain Day...

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International Mountain Day 2023

International Mountain Day 2023

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Restoring mountain ecosystems is the theme of this year's International Mountain Day on 11 December. This theme was selected to fully include mountains in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN Environment Programme. The Decade is an opportunity to...

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