Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
people and mountains
Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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mountains > factfile

Where are the mountains?
Anyone who looks at or walks up a mountain knows what it is, but only recently has it been possible to come up with a precise figure for the proportion of the Earth's land surface covered by mountains: 24 per cent. ... more

Endangered mountain regions
While several of the world's mountain areas are in relatively good ecological shape, many face accelerating environmental and cultural decline brought on in part by government and multilateral agency policies too often founded on inadequate research. ... more

Mountains and people
It has been estimated that 12 per cent of the world's population - about three-quarters of a billion people - lives in mountain areas. Nearly half (46 per cent) of these people live in the Asia/Pacific region. Recent research, bringing together census data with satellite measurements of the light visible from the Earth at night, suggests that 1.48 billion people - 26 per cent of the global population - live in or very near to mountain areas. ... more

Health problems
A disproportionately high number of the world's hungriest and chronically malnourished people live in mountain regions. ... more

Water towers for humanity
More than half of humankind relies on water from mountain areas, for drinking, industry, agriculture, food preparation, hydroelectricity, and many other purposes. ... more

Protected mountains
About one third of the total area of the world's protected areas, including national parks and nature reserves, are in mountains. One reason is the large number of endemic and threatened species (see: ). ... more

Mountain forests
Mountain forests play many vital roles for people. Among the most critical, in these water towers of the world, is their role in capturing and storing rainfall, maintaining water quality, regulating river flow, and reducing erosion and downstream sedimentation. ... more

Mountains in a changing climate
Climate change will have significant impacts on both mountain people and billions living downstream from, and travelling through mountain areas. ... more

Wildlife hotspots
Mountains are core areas of global biodiversity. Because of their isolation, they frequently contain species of plants and animals which are found nowhere else. In other words, they tend to have particularly high levels of endemism. ... more

Mountain energy
Many forms of energy are produced in mountain areas, and have been essential for the economic development of neighbouring regions. The most important of these have been hydroelectricity, which is largely exported downstream, and wood, the primary energy source for most mountain people. ... more

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