Mountains and mountain societies provide a wide range of goods and services to humanity, but they are particularly sensitive to the effects of global environmental change. Thus, the definition of appropriate management regimes that maintain the multiple functions of mountain regions in a time of greatly changing climatic, economic, and societal drivers constitutes a significant challenge. Management decisions must be based on a sound understanding of the future dynamics of these systems. The present article reviews the elements required for an integrated effort to project the impacts of global change on mountain regions, and recommends tools that can be used at 3 scientific levels (essential, improved, and optimum). The proposed strategy is evaluated with respect to UNESCO's network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves (MBRs), with the intention of implementing it in other mountain regions as well. First, methods for generating scenarios of key drivers of global change are reviewed, including land use/land cover and climate change. This is followed by a brief review of the models available for projecting the impacts of these scenarios on (1) cryospheric systems, (2) ecosystem structure and diversity, and (3) ecosystem functions such as carbon and water relations. Finally, the cross-cutting role of remote sensing techniques is evaluated with respect to both monitoring and modeling efforts. We conclude that a broad range of techniques is available for both scenario generation and impact assessments, many of which can be implemented without much capacity building across many or even most MBRs. However, to foster implementation of the proposed strategy, further efforts are required to establish partnerships between scientists and resource managers in mountain areas.
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