Mountains make up one-quarter of Canada’s land-mass and are home to unique ecosystems and iconic wildlife, such as grizzly bears, caribou, mountains goats and sheep. Mountain regions are also the traditional homelands of Indigenous Peoples and the sites of many cultures and traditions.
Mountains are highly vulnerable ecosystems that provide important resources, such as freshwater and timber, to more than half the world’s population. Mountain systems face unique and unprecedented threats to their sustainability, which include resource development, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, natural disasters and climate change impacts. All relate to human impacts and our relationship to the natural environment.
In response to the urgent need to call attention to the importance of mountains to life, the United Nations (UN) has designated December 11th as “International Mountain Day”. Inaugurated in 2003, International Mountain Day is dedicated to raising awareness about opportunities and challenges facing mountain regions, as well as building alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and places around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN is the coordinating agency for the global observance of International Mountain Day, and the UN Mountain Partnership acts as international facilitator.
The year 2019 is a crucial time to highlight climate change action, and mountains are an important part of the discussion. As global temperatures rise, mountain glaciers are melting at a rapid pace. Recent estimates suggest that over 80% of Canada’s mountain glaciers, the source of many of Canada’s great prairie, Pacific, and northern rivers, will disappear this century. This is of serious concern as mountain headwaters supply 60-80% of all freshwater resources on earth.
The Canadian Mountain Network has developed an infographic for International Mountain Day 2019 to highlight key facts and figures showing the importance of mountains for all life on earth. Download it here!
Through a global campaign, social media activities and events around the world, International Mountain Day is creating a large movement dedicated to making mountain issues prominent for decision-makers. We therefore ask everyone to use the hashtag #MountainsMatter on social media to share why mountains are important to you!