4 December 2015

International Mountain Day

In 2003 the United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”.   Celebrated every year around the globe it creates ‘awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world’ (FAO, ’15).  This year the focus is promoting mountain products and with a wealth of those in the Lake District it seems only right to join in on the celebrations! 

The Lakes- beautiful and industrial!
As Upland Rangers we spend a large majority of our working career up in the Lake District Fells and we rely heavily on materials that come directly from the mountain on which we are working.  On all of our work sites we endeavor to use as local material as possible, which helps us to make any paths we build sympathetic to their surroundings.  Where we can, we also support the communities local to our projects, the sheep fleece paths up Martcrag moor being a great example.  The sheep fleece for these paths comes from the farmers that directly graze the land and the aggregate from borrow pits just beside the path.  They offer a great sustainable way of protecting the landscape from further erosion with materials that have rarely travelled more than a few miles.

Mining aggregate for top surface of a path
Picking stone ready for a new path
But we’re not the only ones who use mountain products, from all the way back to Neolithic times when the axe factories were functioning down Langdale to our present day hill farmers, the Lake District has always been an important industrial landscape.  Which can easily be forgotten with 16.4 million tourist (STEAM 2014 - Cumbria Tourism) visiting the Lakes largely for its ‘natural beauty’. 

Coniston coppermines
It's not just mountain products that are important.  Mountainous areas provide 60-80% of the worlds freshwater and we all know how much and how important water is in the Lakes!  This as a resource is becoming more widely used in the Lakes with a number of hydro-electric schemes being installed to provide a sustainable power source that harnesses a natural power.  With the installation of these also comes the creation of jobs which in upland areas can be hard to come by.

We love rain!
As touched on before the Lakes is an incredibly popular tourist spot and it's easy to see why.  It is estimated that more than £900 million (STEAM '12) is contributed to the economy with a little over 15,000 people employed in the sector.  With a huge network of paths and great access to the mountains, the Lakes offer a retreat from the ever growing conurbations around the country.  Indeed I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to be able to call the Lakes both my home and office.  So when International Mountain Day comes around on the 11th December have a little celebration!  

Hurrah mountains!

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