Indigenous peoples


The involvement of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development. The culture of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is predominantly agrarian, shaped by harsh climates and rough terrain as well as the seasonal rhythms of planting, harvesting and transhumance.

For these peoples, land, water and forests are not simply natural resources to be used. As their ancestors before them, these communities understand that their well-being, their sense of identity and their children’s future depend on the careful stewardship of the environment. This ‘intangible heritage’ also enriches the global community, providing inspiration and insights for realizing a more sustainable relationship between humankind and the environment.

Mountain peoples cultivate a wide variety of crops that are adapted to a range of different elevations, slope conditions and microclimates. Moreover, indigenous and traditional mountain farmers have explicitly designed their agricultural systems to protect the soil from erosion, conserve water resources and reduce the risks of disasters triggered by natural hazards.

Therefore, traditional mountain communities serve as custodians of traditional knowledge on how to farm in difficult mountainous conditions and of important reservoirs of agricultural biodiversity. It is important to recognize in indigenous mountain communities that men and women have different areas of knowledge, experience and responsibility that contribute to preserving biodiversity.

The nutritional value of local foods is not determined simply by the different types of local crops, but by the way herbs and spices, the oils, meat, vegetables and condiments are combined and cooked (almost exclusively by women). This traditional cuisine, along with the knowledge and skills required to prepare it, represents another vital aspect of the intangible cultural heritage of mountain peoples. Unfortunately indigenous mountain food systems are at risk. Indigenous foods, stigmatized as ‘foods of the poor’, are often abandoned in favour of modern foods that are more convenient to cook but often contain high levels of sugar and fat and have relatively low nutritional value. This phenomenon compounds the problem of the relatively high rates of iodine and vitamin A micronutrient deficiencies found in impoverished mountain communities.

With climate change scenarios strongly suggesting that extreme weather events are likely to become more common and more intense in mountain areas, it is necessary integrate indigenous agricultural systems and their historical perspectives on climate variability as key-tools in climate change adaptation strategies.

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

event

The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), American University’s Center for Latin America and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announce an international conference on the theme of mountains...

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Mountains at the World Conservation Congress

Mountains at the World Conservation Congress

news

This year the World Conservation Congress, hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), will feature a number of events that address mountains on 1-10 September in Hawaii, USA. The discussions will revolve around the theme of “Planet at the crossroads”, signifying that “the ecosystems...

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Environmental calendar drawn up in Argentina

Environmental calendar drawn up in Argentina

news

An environmental calendar was created in the first half of 2016, with the support of CONICET, in Santa Catalina, a town situated in the high elevations of the Argentinian province of Jujuy. The result of intercultural efforts, the calendar was requested by various communities who wanted to record their local...

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Call for case studies on mountain culture

Call for case studies on mountain culture

peak to peak

Issue 95 – Month 8 – Year 2016

The August issue of Peak to Peak calls for case studies on mountain culture for International Mountain Day (IMD) communication materials. The newsletter continues with stories about a mountain apricot community in the Kyrgyz Republic, a call...

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 A Kyrgyz mountain water legend

A Kyrgyz mountain water legend

news

Though the province of Batken in Kyrgyzstan is located south of the Fergana Valley, a very fertile part of Central Asia, it can hardly be called a ‘place of heaven’. The landscape is flat with a lack of vegetation, surrounded by rocky mountains. Arid climate and scarcity of water resources...

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Yachay Wasi re-visits Andean lakes projects

Yachay Wasi re-visits Andean lakes projects

news

Vice President and Co-Founder of Yachay Wasi and main representative to the United Nations (UN) Marie-Danielle Samuel re-visited Acopia, Peru, in June 2016, returning to the site of several Yachay Wasi projects. She said:

“I returned to Cuzco, Peru and, with the President of Yachay Wasi, I re-visited the Circuit...

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