11th December is celebrated as International Mountain Day every year. The day is aimed at highlighting the importance of mountains and their conservation.
Importance of Mountains
About 15 per cent of the world’s population live on mountains. Mountains are also host to about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Mountains are also responsible for the availability of fresh water to millions of people. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have recognized the importance of mountains and listed its conservation under Goal 15 of the SDGs.
Mountains are highly resourceful. Because of this, they are overexploited, causing a lot of ecological imbalance in its ecosystem. In addition to this, climate change has caused disruption to mountain biodiversity even further. As the mountains bear the brunt of these phenomena, so do the people and resources dependent on them.
International Mountain Day 2020: Theme
The theme for International Mountain Day 2020 is ‘Mountain Biodiversity’. The mountains, because of their unique topography and climate, is a favourable habitat for a wide spectrum of life forms. The mountain biodiversity encompasses a variety of ecosystem, species and genetic resources, many of which are endemic to these regions. The differentiated topography in terms of altitude, slope and exposure in mountains offers opportunities to grow a variety of high-value crops, horticulture, livestock and forest species.
CSR for Mountain Conservation in India
Forest For Air project in Western Ghats by Daikin
The Western Ghats mountain range runs west along the Indian Peninsula. The monsoon winds striking the Western Ghats from the southwest produce high levels of rainfall. The varied topography and plentiful rainfall of the region have nurtured diverse and rich flora and fauna. However, destruction of the forests for fuel by both average households and industry continues to this day.
In order to address this deforestation, Daikin has launched a project called ‘Forest for Air’ in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, where it collaborates with local communities for conservation of biodiversity. The project provides positive incentives to local communities for using biodiversity sustainably, creating a sustainable fuel supply chain, and building communities’ capacity in conservation.
The project includes community-centred planning and implementation of forest protection activities, reforestation using native tree species, local business development such as medicinal plant harvesting, the introduction of more efficiently burning furnaces, and surveys related to ecosystem services.
Make My trip Foundation’s Forest Plantation Drive in Ladakh
Ladakh region in the Himalayas is the cold desert region in India. In order to build sustainable solutions for the mountain communities, Make My Trip Foundation in association with Himalayan Institute of Alternatives (HIAL) has launched an afforestation project in Ladakh. The project is first of its kind that aims to plant 1.3 lakh saplings over the course of 2.4 years in the campus of HIAL University, Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a mountainous region with extreme climatic conditions, the plantation will be undertaken using the Miyawaki technique.
Sonam Wangchuk, Founding Director of HIAL said, “Our vision is to build sustainable ecosystems for the Himalayan communities through innovations like Ice Stupas and passive solar heated buildings. We are delighted to partner with MakeMyTrip for collaborative, community-driven initiatives for desert greening to help in its endeavour to offset the carbon footprint of travellers while simultaneously increasing the limited green cover in Ladakh.”
Waste Collection Treks to the Himalayas by Healing Himalayas Foundation
Healing Himalayas Foundation was founded in 2016, with an intent to preserve the environment and its natural ecology to make it a perfect abode for its inhabitants. It began with a need to sensitize tourists, travellers, trekkers and locals on the protection of the Himalayas, that for many years have silently contained a dump, as a result of unusual human activity. To accomplish the same, the foundation works tirelessly all around the year, making an attempt to clean the treks (most visited and otherwise) while also providing a wonderful trekking experience. The foundation’s projects are focused on clean-up drives, waste management and other activities in the foothills of Himalayas.