Sustainable Development in Mountain Geographies

by Linda Giudice

For anyone interested in mountain geographies, landscapes, and human ecology within, Mountain Geography: Physical and Human Dimensions by Price et al is a highly recommended resource.

The volume covers everything from the physical geography (origins, climatology, snow and ice, landforms) to geomorphic processes to mountain soils, vegetation, and wildlife. I found chapters 10, 11, and 12 particularly interesting as they discuss the “human geography of mountains” including attitudes, livelihoods, interactions, and culture. The volume concludes with a discussion on the challenges of sustainable mountain development (SMD).

For those of us working on these efforts, I strongly encourage you to explore this book especially the “Principles of Sustainable Mountain Development” and policies solutions on page 354/355.

The seven key principles for policies: (as excerpted from source) are:

  1. Recognition of mountains as important and specific areas of development;

  2. Restitution for goods and services rendered to surrounding areas;

  3. Diversification and the benefit of complementarities;

  4. Taking full advantage of the local potential for innovation;

  5. Cultural change without the loss of site specific knowledge;

  6. Conservation of mountain ecosystems and early warning systems;

  7. Institutionalizing sustainable development of mountain areas

While these may seem like aspirational goals, it is certainly a good list to keep in mind as we set our own objectives and project the outcomes they may bring.

The concluding paragraph states:

“A key indicator of the long-term success of the process toward SMD that began at Rio in 1992 will be the number of effective partnerships developed to avoid conflicts and increase cooperation – both among mountain people themselves and between them and the great diversity of other stakeholders who are concerned with the long term security of mountain environments and the billions who depend on them.”

It is in this spirit that I trust our regional network can work together to increase cooperation and share best practices on sustainable mountain development efforts.


Mountain Geography
Physical and Human Dimensions
Martin F. Price (Editor), Alton C. Byers (Editor), Donald A. Friend (Editor), Thomas Kohler (Editor), Larry W. Price (Editor)
Hardcover, 400 pages / ISBN: 9780520254312
August 2013

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