7 December 2012

International Mountain Day- Celebrating Mountain Life

Sunset over the Langdales
As an Upland Ranger I love being out and about in the Lake District Mountains.  Whether it’s for work or play they offer us green spaces full of challenge and nature.  Yet sometimes it is easily forgotten how important mountainous areas are to sustainable development on a global scale.   

The 'Office'!
Mountains cover 27% of the earth’s land area, with 17% of the worlds population (that’s 1.2 BILLION people) living in a mountainous region or on the fringes.  United Nations (2012) estimates they provide 60-80% of the world’s freshwater resource, which will include providing a water supply for at least half the worlds population, including for cities such as New York.  Closer to home, the Lake District is the water supply for Manchester.  They also provides us with the most important source of green energy, with hydro electricity contributing 20% of global electricity generation.

Haweswater Reservoir
Upland areas are also held in high regard by the people that lived in them.  For example the stone taken from the higher Langdale axe factories was considered more valuble than that taken from lower areas and mountain tops have always been considered as spiritual places.  The fact that Everest is known as the 'Holy Mother' and worshiped, futher supports this importance to the locals.  Even today people retreat into the mountains for peace and solitude. 

Peace and quiet in our Stake Pass shed
When looked at in this way mountainous areas are incredibly important to sustainable development on not just a global scale, but also a local scale.  They are also important indicators of global climate and potential change.  In making 11th December International Mountain Day the UN are acknowledging and raising awareness of the importance of mountains.  They believe that governments need to lead the way on ensuring these regions are managed in a holistic way, with water, biodiversity, tourism and infrastructure all taken into account, but also ensuring the local communities are at the core of any legislation.  

Local communities are key to sustainable development
In the UK a great example of this is the proposed management for the High Peak Moors.  By creating a draft management plan in conjunction with all the land owners, the National Trust aims to manage the area in a sustainable way that will not only benefit the upland areas but also have postive effects on areas lower down in the catchment.

Sustainable management of the uplands has positive effects for the lowlands
So what can we do?  Well getting out there and enjoying the mountains in a responsible manner is a good start!  Then being aware of the issues the UN are trying to raise is another, think about where your water supply comes from, how the weather locally could be affected by the mountains, the amount of carbon stored in upland bogs...we are all linked to the mountains in some way so lets appreciate them!

Final picture is from John Atkinson, it's one of his favourites!  The weekend looks like it's going to be a good one, so get out and enjoy!

Fleetwith Pike
By Sarah Anderson- Ranger (Uplands)



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