Dec 11

Since 2003, the United Nations General Assembly has designated the 11th December as International Mountain Day, in order to raise global awareness of the importance of mountains. The annual celebration was born from the success of the 2002 UN International Year of Mountains, which saw the creation of the Mountain Partnership, an alliance dedicated to protecting mountains for both people and wildlife.

Western Ghats mountain image

Western Ghats mountain ranges

Biologically rich

Far from being lofty landscapes devoid of inhabitants, mountains house about a quarter of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and almost half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They have also provided people with food, with a number of plant crop species and domesticated animal, such as maize, potatoes, sheep and goats, originating from mountainous regions.

Hajar mountains image

Hajar mountains, habitat of Arabian tahr

Mountain Forests

This year’s theme for International Mountain Day will be Mountains and Forests, and will aim to highlight the importance of mountain forests and the crucial role they play in the ecosystem. While mountain forests are home to many unique species, they are also important to people. As well as providing food and wood for mountain dwelling people, they also protect the watersheds of more than half the world’s freshwater supply.

Mountain forests image

Mountain forests of the Atlantic forest

Mountains under threat

Mountain ecosystems are vulnerable to both natural and man made threats, including fire, agriculture, development and climate change. These activities all degrade the value of mountain ecosystems and International Mountain Day aims to raise awareness of these issues, and the need to conserve these spectacular landscapes for both wildlife and people.

Find out more about International Mountain Day.

Find out more about mountain biodiversity with the Convention on Biological Diversity.

View the mountainous Western Ghats eco-region on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author