Mountain social-ecological system dynamics and resilience to global change (2)

Session 43 (Mountain social-ecological system dynamics and resilience to global change) brought up the importance of connectivity in system functionality. Connectivity is vital to ensure diversity in mountains to sustain healthy populations (livestock, wildlife and humans). Fencing some of the grazing areas of Tibetan pastoral communities restricts the movement of herds across their traditional pastures and has negative effects in terms of adaptation to climate change and may cause local conflicts. For large predators in European mountains, e.g. bears in the Carpathians, connectivity with surrounding habitats allows dispersal to new territories and helps maintain viable populations in increasingly human-dominated landscapes, where human-wildlife conflicts are constantly present.

Facilitation of multi-stakeholder involvement in design, planning and implementation of initiatives that aim at addressing connectivity in mountainous areas is extremely important. Transboundary conservation areas are addressing ecosystems connectivity though international collaboration and also pave way for regional development initiatives. The use of geospatial technologies in mapping ecological corridors and stepping stones for improved understanding of the connectivity in fragmented agro-ecosystems is a good step forward. Increased use of tools (e.g. Web-GIS) enables the availability and accessibility of key spatial information for stakeholders and policymakers to plan land use and make informed decisions. Transportation needs of mountain people have radically changed over time. Formerly mainly pedestrian transport systems have turned into private-vehicle supported systems requiring well-maintained infrastructure which takes into account modern people’s needs and time-distance dimensions in rough topography throughout various seasons. Sustainable development in the mountains have to recognize the multifunctional characteristics of these ecosystems.

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