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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD ) is heavily promoted in Laos. REDD is often perceived as an opportunity to jointly address climate change and poverty and, therefore, could come timely for Laos to combine its prominent national target of poverty eradication with global climate mitigation efforts. Countrywide planning of the right approaches to REDD combined with poverty alleviation requires knowledge of the spatial combination of poverty and carbon stocks at the national level. This study combined spatial information on carbon stored in vegetation and on poverty and created carbon-poverty typologies for the whole country at the village level. We found that 11% of the villages of Laos have high to very high average village-level carbon stock densities and a predominantly poor population. These villages cover 20% of the territory and are characterized by low population density. Shifting cultivation areas in the northwestern parts of the country have a higher carbon mitigation potential than areas in the central and eastern highlands due to a more favorable climate. Finally, we found that in Laos the majority (58%) of poor people live in areas with low carbon stock densities without major potential to store carbon. Accordingly, REDD cannot be considered a core instrument for poverty alleviation. The carbon-poverty typologies presented here provide answers to basic questions related to planning and managing of REDD . They could serve as a starting point for the design of systems to monitor both socioeconomic and environmental development at the national level.
Is the increasing interest in landscape at a European level translated to a local level? How is it perceived and mobilized by local actors? Are there lessons to be learned from empirical case studies? To increase our understanding of these issues, an analysis was carried out by using the theoretical framework of the sociology of translation on 8 landscape-based initiatives in an Italian Alpine valley. The initiatives aimed, either explicitly or implicitly, at enhancing the mountainous landscapes in a move toward more sustainable development. The sociology of translation conceives the implementation of an innovation as an attempt to build a working network between human and nonhuman entities such as landscape. Our analysis shows how dynamically different actors can interact with landscape in a rural mountain context. In quite similar places (ie sharing the same problems, rural history, and goals), the same resources were used in different ways by the different initiatives. The outcomes depend on the ability of the promoters of the initiatives to build networks with different actors, in some cases far beyond the valley or province's borders, around new concepts of landscape. Moreover, an adequate organizational framework that fosters bottom-up approaches can support successful implementation of local landscape projects. Active, two-way communication is also crucial to move from a “local” to a “participative” project and thus mobilize allies for sustainable landscape planning and management. Overall, the research provides insights into how such landscape initiatives can be better implemented and effectively contribute toward the European Landscape Convention.
Food security is a significant issue for many people who live in remote mountain areas around the world. Most of these people are also poor because of the lack of opportunity to earn cash. Malnutrition is common because the harsh climate restricts production and access to fresh food. Simple conventional greenhouses can provide some improvement of growing conditions, but the benefits are limited because of the high heat losses from these structures. Solar greenhouses, however, which are designed to store some of the heat generated within the structure can overcome these limitations. This article describes the experiences of a nongovernmental organization that has been introducing community and family-owned solar greenhouses into the remote villages of Humla, a mountainous district of northwest Nepal prone to food insecurity. The overall result has been positive. Family-owned greenhouses, which avoid the issues of community ownership and operation, have been more successful. A validated computer model based on the first solar greenhouse has been used to predict the thermal performance of a new family-sized design. Training and education are vital to the success of solar greenhouse technology in remote mountain areas.
Can existing Afro-alpine tourism promote poverty mitigation and resolve regional disparities? This article explores the significance of alpine tourism in the Mt Kenya region based on analysis of the state of the art and official statistical data along with own surveys, mapping activities, and household observations. The results show that economic benefits from mountaineering tourism in the Mt Kenya region are smaller than commonly calculated, and that low and inconsistent incomes are distributed unevenly. There are clear parallels to the critical situation in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda: Alpine tourism does not reduce regional income disparities and largely fails to promote sustainable development. The article also takes a closer look at the development effects of community-based tourism, drawing from the example of the Mt Kenya Guides and Porters Safari Club (GPSC), a community-based tourism organization operating from Naro Moru, at the fertile western foot of Mt Kenya. Results show that this form of tourism stabilizes the livelihoods of rural households, contributes to community welfare, and reduces the vulnerability of families. The GPSC's democratic organizational structure with elected and regularly rotating offices prevents the enrichment of only few members and ensures even distribution of benefits to all members and to the whole community. Overall, however, there is not enough tourism in the study area to initiate sustainable regional development in the foreseeable future.
Skiers are passionate about finding the best snow conditions. Snow conditions in thousands of ski resorts around the world depend mainly on natural snowfall, particularly in the case of backcountry skiing. In various mountain ranges popular among skiers, snowfall is strongly linked to large-scale climatic oscillations. This paper reviews existing information on the impacts of several of these phenomena, such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and North Pacific Index, on snowfall-related climate parameters in the world's major ski areas. We found that in each of the studied areas, one or more large-scale climatic oscillations affected snowfall-related climate parameters. Understanding the predictability of such oscillations is high on the climate research agenda. If this research leads to improved predictability in the coming years, this could be combined with the knowledge summarized in our paper on the relationships between climatic oscillations and snow-related parameters to provide useful information for winter sports and other snow-related fields.
One of the most important parameters of the hydrological cycle, precipitation, is directly affected by global warming; as a result, natural spring flow that receives input from rainfall in the midwestern Himalayan hills is affected as well. Spring flow is of prime importance in this area: Springs are the backbone of all of the population's agricultural, social, and financial activities. The deterioration of spring flow results in outmigration and adversely affects the economy of the region. An 11-year study was undertaken of 2 watersheds in Uttarakhand, Chandrabhaga and Danda. These watersheds were observed using 9 automatic rain gauges and 2 river gauging sites. Spring flow measurements were made daily, covering almost all springs used by local inhabitants. A power regression relationship between precipitation and spring flow was developed, with high correlation. The time lag between precipitation and spring flow was investigated for different springs, based on 2 to 11 years of daily data. The springs in Chandrabhaga and Danda watersheds showed a daily measured lag of 1 to 30 days and a monthly measured lag of 0 to 2 months. It was observed that the discharge of springs in Chandrabhaga and Danda watersheds primarily responds to rainfall. Based on an analysis of average water availability, theoretical water demand, and actual water use in the 2 watersheds, we recommend planning for increasing the water retention power of each watershed, using drip irrigation in horticultural crops, and installing water conservation structures to capture rainwater during monsoon months for use during nonmonsoon months.
MRI continually explores new avenues to promote global change research in mountains. Since the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) renewed its funding for the initiative in 2010, MRI has pursued its program of global and regional networking activities, synthesis workshops, and new communication modes, but is now going beyond them to investigate more sustained efforts.
Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns across the Hindu Kush–Himalaya (HKH) region resulting from climate change have an influence on water resource availability and food security for the downstream population. This review seeks to objectively assess the available evidence of the impacts of climate change on glacier hydrology and the wider implications upon water resources within the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra basins. Glacier meltwater contribution to river flows is scale dependent and varies considerably across the east–west climatic zones of the HKH. For the Ganges and Brahmaputra this contribution is estimated to be significantly less than for the Indus to the west, with summer monsoon rains dominating flows from central and easterly areas, whereas meltwater remains a significant contributor to downstream flow of westerly basins, which receive most precipitation during winter. No corroborated trends exist in observed discharge for any basin, and such analyses are hindered by a lack of good-quality long-term data. Predicted increases in temperature will drive increased shrinkage of glaciers, leading to initial increases in meltwater produced, followed by subsequent declines with reduced glacier mass. The impacts of such changes are predicted to be minimal for the overall discharge of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, where increases in rainfall may in fact lead to increased flows but with greater variability. Within the Indus basin, reduced meltwater will have significant impacts upon available runoff; however, increased uncertainties surrounding precipitation and socioeconomic changes limit any conclusive assessment of how water availability will be affected; moreover, seasonality of runoff may be a more important factor. Scientific challenges and research recommendations are identified for the region. This review proposes the need for the scientific evidence pertaining to the region's glacier systems to be approached objectively in the future, such that a robust assessment of change can be attained.
This paper presents a detailed review of atmospheric pollution observed in the Hindu Kush–Himalaya (HKH) region and its implications for regional climate. Data from in situ measurements made at high-altitude stations in the HKH region, observations from satellite-based instruments, and global climate modeling study results are discussed. Experimental observations discussed include both atmospheric measurements and data from snow and ice core sampling from different glaciers in the HKH region. The paper focuses on the atmospheric brown cloud loadings over the Himalayas, particularly black carbon (BC) and ozone, which have links to regional climate and air-pollution–related impacts. Studies show elevated levels of anthropogenic ozone and BC over the Himalayas during the pre-monsoon season with concentrations sometimes similar to those observed over an average urban environment. The elevated concentration observed over the Himalayas is thought to come from the lowlands, especially the highly populated areas of the Indo-Gangetic Plains. The implications of high BC loading in the Himalayan atmosphere as well as elevated BC deposition on snow and ice surfaces for regional climate, hydrological cycle, and glacial melt are discussed.
Mountains are hotspots of climate and land use change. The Hindu Kush–Himalayan (HKH) region features some of the world's most vulnerable ecosystems and is highly susceptible to climate change. Both climate change and land use transition in the HKH region have impacts on human health. A warming trend is driving the geographical expansion of disease outbreaks, whereas ecological changes and economic inequalities influence the spread of diseases. Altered distributions of vector species are early signs of climate change, and pests, pathogens, and parasites are among the first scourges to emerge during periods of transition. The distribution and seasonal transmission of vector-borne infections among humans may be affected by climate change. Information on the impacts of such changes on human health in the region is scanty. This article reviews literature on the impacts of climate change and land use transition on human health in the HKH region, specifically dealing with topics such as the relationship between climate change and health; health sensitivity, vulnerability, and adaptation; health determinants related to climate change; temperature extremes and health issues; air pollution, black carbon, and health; food security, nutrition, and health; land use change and infectious diseases; and population migration and livelihood transition. The article outlines an agenda for future research on climate change and human health for the HKH region.