“Mountain Cultures: Celebrating diversity and strengthening identity”
This year, the celebration of Mountain Day aims to highlight Mountain Cultures. Mountains host communities with ancient cultures and traditions, and are places of religious worship, pilgrimage and rituals all over the world. The concept of traditional heritage, culture and spirituality is intrinsically linked with peoples’ livelihoods in the mountains, where it is often traditional lifestyles that determine the way people make a living and subsist.
Mountains are also the sources of springs and rivers and have been revered as the home of deities throughout history. A large proportion of the world’s minority populations live in mountain areas. Isolation, created by the rugged topographic barriers, has helped create and maintain many diverse cultures relatively intact. Unfortunately, the stability of mountain populations, each with different values and belief systems, is threatened by migration, urbanization and conflict.
Mountain peoples have long held vital roles in the management of their ecosystems. Over the centuries, they have developed remarkable land-use systems, climate change adaptation approaches, traditional diets and mountain products that are unique and rich in globally significant biodiversity.
Often grounded in a deep connection with the land, mountain communities’ worldviews guide them in their agricultural activities and care of the environment and natural resources. Furthermore, mountains and mountain-protected areas are places of spiritual solace, inspiration, recreation and relaxation. The impacts of tourism on culture and identity in the mountains can bring both possibilities and challenges. Community-based mountain tourism can ensure a more equitable distribution of income, help maintain local cultures and knowledge, reduce out-migration and provide incentives for the protection of mountain ecosystems, their goods and services.