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    Why are mountains important?

    These towers of​​ forests, water and life are ​more dynamic — and more endangered — than you might think

    23% of forests are in mountain zones


    Though deforestation is more commonly associated with tropical areas, mountain trees have also been unsustainably cleared for farming, mining and logging. In the mountains of southwest China, for instance, only 8% of original forest remains. When forest cover is lost, runoff and soil erosion increase, causing landslides, avalanches and floods. Like their tropical counterparts, mountain forests store large quantities of carbon; their loss exacerbates climate change.

    329 million mountain-dwellers face hunger

    Food insecurity

    Mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, threatening the plants and animals that mountain people, already among the world’s poorest citizens, depend on for survival. The number of people living in mountain areas in developing countries facing food insecurity rose 30% between 2000 and 2012, from 253 million to nearly 329 million. That means that one in three people who live in mountain areas — urban and rural — faced hunger and malnutrition, compared with one in nine globally.

    60% of fresh water flows from mountains

    Water scarcity

    Nearly every major river begins in the mountains, where water is captured from the atmosphere and stored as snow and ice, supplying streams and rivers. More than half of the world’s population relies on fresh water from mountains for drinking, washing, irrigation, hydropower, industry and transportation. In some cases, a single mountain can supply water for millions: In East Africa, for example, Mount Kenya is the only source of fresh water for more than 7 million people. Climate change is causing many mountain glaciers to melt, however, which could lead to water shortages in the future.

    Our Solutions

    For 30 years, Conservation International has helped protect the places that are most critical for sustaining nature and all of its benefits. This includes mountain ecosystems, from the alpine tundras of Colombia to the remote Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, that supply water for millions of people. Through research, financing and community partnerships, Conservation International advances national and global policies that aim to slow climate change and its impact on mountain ecosystems — and the people that depend on them.​​​​​

    Protect Nature
    Your donation will help us reach our ambitious $75,000 Earth Day goal by April 22.
    Donate Now
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