By- Mountaineer Bhawna Dehariya Mishra (Everest Climber)
With a view to creating awareness on issues pertaining to mountains, countries across the globe celebrate International Mountain Day on December 11. Normally various activities like; themed lectures, workshops, art contests and press events are organised. Every year a theme is floated for International Mountain Day.
My being a trained climber and an Everest conquer, I know that more than a quarter of the world’s surface is covered by mountains? Or that over 12 per cent of the human population live on or near mountains.
Our mountains are major source of livelihood to many people around the world. They also indirectly benefit each of us. Mountains provide fresh waters to at least fifty percent of the world as most rivers are fed by mountains with a set natural mechanism for downstream users.
Our mountains play a prominent role climates and weather conditions. Our lives depend upon health of our mountains.
Yet our mountains are facing threat and many of them are vulnerable to a host of problems landslides, avalanches, volcanic eruptions, fire, intensified agriculture and industrialisation. But now the prime threat is coming from climate change.
According to our mountain experts, geologists and scientists, mounting pressures on mountain is changing our environments and affect the fragile ecosystem and the livelihoods of people dependent upon mountain.
We should understand that most poor people, about 80 percent, who live near mountains, are among the poorest, disadvantaged and marginalised. They do not have basic health and education facilities and rely on agriculture, with a higher risk of crop failure than at lower elevations because of harsh weather and less level ground suitable for agriculture.
So what we should do? In my opinion we should promote mountain products, mineral mining supports some mountain societies, and tourism contributes to the economies of many mountain communities.
This way we can create high value; high quality mountain products such as honey, herbs, tea, coffee, spices and handicrafts, there are opportunities for people living on or near mountain to sell them nationally, and even internationally. Besides, a tourism-related service such as skiing, trekking, agriculture, and heritage walks, which allow visitors to discover unique aspects of the mountain, can boost local economies and improve quality of life.
India is home to great, diverse mountain ranges, which include some of the tallest mountains in the world. These include the Himalayan range, the Karakoram range, the Western Ghats (Sahayadri Mountains), the Eastern Ghats, the Vindhyas, the Aravallis and the Patkai Hill Range. On International Mountain Day, let us take a pledge to protect our mountains, indigenous cultures, traditions and knowledge by using mountain products ourselves.