Preface - Safeguarding Mountain Social-Ecological Systems

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Mountains cover a significant proportion of our planet’s land surface—though the proportion is not universally agreed, as many criteria have been used to define mountains, at global, regional, and even national scales (Price et al., 2018). These landforms are composed of a wide variety of rocks, of many ages, and are found at almost all latitudes from the Arctic to the Antarctic. As mountains are situated on islands, and from the coasts to the interiors of continents, their climates also vary considerably. These various characteristics mean that they have a great diversity of ecosystems; and many of these have been significantly altered and even created by people. Again, these people are very diverse in every respect; and so are their histories and their current economic, social, and political systems.

When I began my mountain studies some four decades ago, I wanted to increase my knowledge of this great diversity, but I found only one book that attempted to cover it, dating back to 1936 (Peattie, 1936). There were innumerable books, academic papers, and reports on various aspects, but nothing recent that provided a comprehensive and multidisciplinary overview. Such a book was published in 1981 (Price, 1981) and, in the same year, the first journal devoted to research from all natural and social science disciplines, as well as development, in mountain areas around the world was founded: Mountain Research and Development (MRD). Since then, MRD has continued to widen its scope and has been joined by two other journals with a global remit: the Journal of Mountain Science (in 2004) and the Journal of Alpine Research (since 2013) (Zimmermann et al., 2018). Together, the papers in these—and other—journals contribute to our global knowledge about all aspects of mountains. In addition, some issues of MRD have brought together papers presented at global conferences on mountains: in Tsahkadzor, Armenia in 1989 [vol 10(2); vol 11(1)], and Perth, Scotland in 2010 and 2015 [vol 32, supplement; vol 36(4)]. Such conferences—and there have been many others—represent key opportunities for scientists working in mountains around the world to meet, exchange, and plan ahead. Finally, it should be mentioned that all of these journals are now online and have been complemented by the websites of the Mountain Forum (1997–2010: Ponce, 2007), the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), and the Mountain Partnership, facilitating access to those who have internet connections.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSafeguarding Mountain Social-Ecological Systems
Subtitle of host publicationA Global Challenge : Facing Emerging Risks, Adapting to Changing Environments and Building Transformative Resilience in Mountain Regions Worldwide
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-822095-5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023


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