International Mountain Day was observed by Tribal Foundation at Maraamalai Tribal Settlement in the Western Ghats by the Tribal Foundation on December 11.
Addressing the indigenous people S S Davidson, environmental educator said that, mountains were crucial to life. Whether people lived at sea level or the highest elevations, they were connected to mountains and affected by them in more ways. Mountains provide most of the world’s freshwater, harbor a rich variety of plants and animals, and are home to one in ten people. Yet, each day, environmental degradation, the consequences of climate change, mono-culture plantations, poverty and hunger threaten the extraordinary web of life that the mountains support.
He said that mountains are storehouses of global biodiversity. Mountains are cradles and refuges of organism diversity. Half of the world’s biodiversity hots pots are concentrated in mountains. Mountains provide a host of vital goods and services for the benefit of all humankind, able to support sustainable development at a global level, and to lead the world towards a greener economy. As arks of life, preserving much of the world’s biodiversity, mountains are keys to conservation.
Mountain biodiversity provides basic ecosystems services such as freshwater, timber, medicinal plants, and recreation for the surrounding lowlands and their increasingly urbanized areas. By preventing erosion, mountain plant diversity secures livelihoods, traffic routes and catchment quality.
More than 50 percent of mankind benefits from mountains as the world’s human impact dominates large mountain areas, and its effects are often irreversible. Human activities are profoundly affecting the world’s climate and, consequently, mountain ecosystems. Because of their altitude, slope and orientation to the sun, they are easily disrupted by variations in climate.
Water is life, which is essential for all aspects of our livelihood, from basic drinking water to food production and health, from energy production to industrial development, from sustainable management of natural resources to conservation of the environment. All the major rivers of the world depend on mountains for water.
While protected areas are essential, they alone cannot ensure conservation of biodiversity or cultural heritage. Traditional indigenous communities often use and manage biodiversity in mountain protected areas, and may be even more threatened than biodiversity itself. Mountain regions where people live and work require innovative and respectful approaches to conservation; local people should be encouraged towards stewardship of both their natural and cultural heritage.
Participation of mountain communities at all stages is crucial in the sustainable management and use of biodiversity. Stewardship, with its focus on community-based management and local leadership, holds great promise for conservation of those mountain areas around the world where the biological, cultural and scenic qualities of the landscape are the result of the interactions of people with nature over a long time.
He urged the indigenous people to protect and conserve the mountains. He told them that eco-tourism should not affect the mountain ecology.
As a mark of celebrating the Day, organic floor sleeping mats made of korai (Cyperus rotundus) were distributed to the indigenous people.
Source: message by Tribal Foundation (Nagercoil), 8 February 2013
[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]
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