Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development

Mountains                                       

SummaryCape Verde Mountains

Mountain ecosystems play a unique and often overlooked role as nature’s “water tower.” It is estimated that one in two people worldwide depend on freshwater from a mountain source. As a result, disruptions of mountain ecosystems can have wide-reaching consequences. Because their distinct climate zones vary with altitude, mountains are also centers of biodiversity.

Main Idea

Mountains are fragile ecosystems with a critical role in the water cycle

Key Concepts

Ecosystem services of mountains

      • centers of biodiversity
      • source of freshwater

Outcomes

Knowledge of:

    • Ecosystem services of mountains

      • centers of biodiversity
      • source of freshwater

Ability to outline a sustainability strategy

Core Readings

  1. Why do Mountains and Watersheds Matter?
    Mentions statistics for mountains as sources of biodiversity for crops and interrelationships with poverty, followed by a more in-depth discussion of the necessity of mountain ecosystem health for freshwater (4 pages)
  2. Mountain Watch
    Ecosystem services of and threats to various mountain ecosystems (4 pages)
    1. “Mountain Ecosystems,” pages 15-16
      Various mountain ecosystems
    2. “Cloud Forest,” pages 26-27
      Characteristics, importance, and preservation of tropical mountain cloud forests

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Transboundary Collaboration for Ecosystem Conservation
    Long, but provides an excellent organizational outline of topics to consider for Part 4 student projects (27 pages)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Mountains: Globally Important Ecosystems
    Discussion of mountains as sources of rivers and centers of biodiversity
    (3 pages)
  2. Mountains and Freshwater Supply
    Discussion of mountains’ role in freshwater with examples from Mount Kenya, Himalayas, and Alps (9 pages)
  3. Mountain Climates
    Description of mountain climates (6 pages)
  4. Mountain Watch
    Ecosystem services of and threats to various mountain ecosystems; global spatial data on each thematic area (84 pages, graphic-rich)

Assignment Questions

  1. Mountains: Explain the role of mountains in the hydrological cycle.
  2. Mountains: What physical characteristics of mountains distinguish their ecosystems?