Lead


Lay summary
Mountain systems deliver a wide range of goods and services to humanity,such as freshwater, biodiversity, carbon storage, forest products, etc.The functioning of many mountain systems is threatened today by an arrayof anthropogenic changes, from land-use changes, pollution and increasedatmospheric CO2 to climatic changes. Thus, many mountain ecosystems aremoving along trajectories that couple high rates of environmental changewith strong economic changes.While there are several ongoing efforts for monitoring environmentalchanges in mountain regions (e.g., Glacier Monitoring Network), processstudies of global change factors, modeling efforts and socio-economicresearch on future livelihoods in mountains, these research activitiescould profit from improved coordination. The international “MountainResearch Initiative" was established in 2001 with the primary objectivesof 1) formulating integrated strategies for detecting signals of globalchange in mountain regions, 2) assessing the impacts of these changes formountain regions as well as lowland areas dependent on mountain resources,and 3) facilitating the development of sustainable resource managementstrategies.To date, the MRI has initiated (1) a cooperation with the UNESCO-MABprogramme to implement global change research projects in the network ofMountain Biosphere Reserves, including a successful application under the6th Framework Programme of the EU for a Specific Support Action; (2) areview project that brings together articles from 65 key mountainresearchers on all topics and disciplines that are relevant for the MRI;(3) contributions by MRI researchers to the Millennium EcosystemAssessment; (4) communication and outreach activities, including the a website, a database of researchers and the publication of newsletters; (5)the organization of several scientific meetings.In the coming three years, the MRI will work towards (1) the integrationof established research programs with the aim of linking specializedresearch groups into the wider community of mountain researchers, throughthe organization of workshops, sessions at symposia, and MRI conferences;the cooperation with UNESCO’s MAB Programme to implement MRI research inMountain Biosphere Reserves worldwide will be a key activity; (2)launching new projects that will prioritize the MRI’s overall objectivesto an operational level; among others, the MRI will strive to establish anetwork of high-elevation climate observatories; (3) interdisciplinaryresearch coordination by fostering and exploiting the contacts andfurthering the partnership with other organizations; (4) publication ofpeer-reviewed papers, Special Issues of scientific journals and editedbooks; and (5) capacity building, among others through the establishmentof a Visiting Scientist Programme and the organization of a series ofSummer Schools.