Australian Institute of Alpine Studies


No. 2 May 1998



Global Threats Conference Report



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Second International Congress of Mountain Wilderness, June 5-8 1998 Metsovan, North Pindos Mountains Greece. Contact Mountain Wilderness International (Greece) Constantinos Tsipiras, PO Box 30736, 1033 Athens, Greece Fax +30 -13-24-37-82.

International symposium on resources development & protection of mountainous areas, September 2-5, 1998 Shijiazhuang, Hebei, P.R.China.

For further information, please contact the Secretariat:Ms: Guan Xiaodong and Ms. Zhang Yuansheng Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering(CSAE) 16 Dong San Huan Bei Lu, Chaoyang District Beijing 100026, P.R.China Tel: (0086 10) 64192989 Fax:(0086 10) 65002448 CSAE email:

The development of mountainous areas is a world wide problem. In China, the area of mountainous areas occupies 70% of her land territory. Most of the people residing in these areas usually live in poverty. The Chinese government has made decisions to guide her people to get rid of poverty in this century. During the last decades a number of mountainous areas in China have made progress by the aid of science and technology. Soil and water conservation together with economic development have changed their outlook of poverty to rich, and the harmonic development of society, economy, resource and environment has formed successfully a sustainable way of development of the mountainous areas. Hebei Province is one of these areas whose experiences have been highly praised by the Chinese government and foreign organisations and firms from Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan and the UND of the UN and the World Bank.

The '98 International Symposium on Resources Development & Protection of Mountainous Areas' ('98 MOUNTAIN) has been ratified by the State Commission of Science and Technology, People's Republic of China and is sponsored jointly by the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering(CSAE), Science and Technology Commission of Hebei Province and the China Rural Technology Development Center, PRC. Exchange of experiences and promotion of cultural and economic cooperation will be the main theme of the Symposium including inspiring field trips. The Symposium will be held in ShiJiazhuang the Capital city of Hebei Province, which is only 3 hours driving far from Beijing.

A. The exploitage of mountainous areas and the elimination of poverty

  1. The ways and counter measures of removing poverty and to be rich.

  2. The scientific management, the training of talent and the implementation for the construction of mountainous areas.

B. The exploitage of mountainous districts and sustainable development

  1. The present and future situations of the sustainable agriculture development of mountainous areas.

  2. The production and the protection of forestry.

  3. The synthetic treatment and the ecological protection of mountainous areas.

C. The engineering and technical measures of the development of mountainous areas

  1. Reasonable exploitage of mountainous area.

  2. Engineering technics and installations in order to transform mountains and rivers.

  3. The processing and the utilisation of the resources of mountainous areas.

Abstracts in English, should not exceed 500 words and must clearly emphasise objectives and results. Each abstract should include key words related to the topics of the Symposium. The submitted abstracts will be refereed by members of the international scientific committee. Abstract deadline is 10. June, 1998. The final camera ready manuscript printed in A4 sheet must be received before 10. July, 1998. Abstract and full paper also could be sent to the Secretariat of Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering by E-mail. the address is:

III International symposium on sustainable mountain development, Quito, December 10-17, 1998 IGM-CEPEIGE Geographic Center, Quito, Ecuador.

Organisers: Andean Mountain Association (AMA), Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Georgia (CLACS), Pan American Center for Geographic Studies and Research (CEPEIGE). Details of the event can be found at URL of

Objectives: The III International Symposium of the Andean Mountains Association (AMA) has the objectives of (1) facilitating interchange of ideas and experiences of the Mountain Agenda between scholars, policy-makers and NGOs, (2) presenting the state-of-the-art in ecological knowledge on sustainability in the Andes, (3) stimulating scholarly research in programmatic areas of mountain development leading to practical applications, such as biosphere reserves and community-based enterprises (4) invigorating AMA networking and re-establishing previous contacts among montologists, and (5) producing baseline information to allow a regional consensus on priorities and foci for sustainable development policy and research in the Andes. The Symposium is a scholarly meeting that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Pan American Center for Geographic Studies and Research and it will launch the rebirth of montology in the Andes.

Methodology: The connectivity of dynamic systems in Andean landscapes is the topic of this III Symposium: "Understanding interfaces of Andean cultural landscapes for Management"; it builds on the previous 1995's topic of "Managing fragile lands in the Andes", providing an interdisciplinary scope of sustainability issues, stressing the holistic view of Andean landscapes as integrated dynamic entities, yet pulsing as a whole ecoregion. With this vein, the III Symposium will (1) provide keynote lectures on general trends and long term studies, (2) sponsor specialised workshops in subject areas of current relevancy, (3) develop concept papers, which after their discussion in the meeting, will become publishable material for worldwide distribution; (4) promote a wider participation with poster sessions to increase representation, saving time to do field trips and site evaluations; and (5) document the collaboration and produce technical publications (e.g., MOUs between UGA and AMA members, Latin American dictionary of Landscape Ecology, Conservation and Sustainable Development; Directory of Andean researchers and Institutions on Sustainability; Special issue of Mountain Research and Development, Manual of Slopeland restoration practices; Guidelines to landslide and watershed management, etc.).

International Year of the Mountains in 2000?
In 1997 the President of the Kyrgyz Republic proposed to the United Nations that the year 2000 be declared an International Year of the Mountains. The proposal was supported by 43 countries during a plenary session of the UN Economic and Social Council. The final decision to proclaim an International Year of the Mountains rests with the UN General Assembly this year. In preparation for this decision, the UN recently called for "a report on the desirability of proclaiming an international year of mountains." The below letter of support for this initiative was quickly composed and returned on behalf of the Mountain Forum in order to meet the deadline of April 30. It is reproduced here in full.

4 May 1998

Ms. Anne Rogers
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Sustainable Development
Two United Nations Plaza, Room DC2 - 2274
New York, NY 10017
Email: <>

RE: Proposal for an International Year of the Mountains

Dear Ms. Rogers,

The Mountain Institute in its capacity as the Global representative of the Mountain Forum--a worldwide network of over 600 mountain people, leaders and professionals working towards sustainable mountain development-fully endorses the proposal made by the Kyrgyz Republic to proclaim the year 2000 as the International Year of the Mountains. We feel that any internationally recognized year, whether it is the year 2000 or an immediately following year that is dedicated to mountain awareness issues, and action would benefit these vital ecosystems and the often neglected mountain people who are their increasingly marginalized stewards.

Official recognition by the UN of an International Year of the Mountains would greatly enhance the global visibility and awareness of the importance of these major and fragile ecosystems. It would call attention to the need for specific policies and activities which support integrated, community-based, approaches to address the interconnected needs of mountain communities and mountain ecosystems.

The proposal for an International Year of the Mountains is in complete accord with the recommendations mandated by UNCED Agenda 21, Chapter 13 which recognizes the vital and interrelated importance of this major ecosystem to the survival of the global ecosystem upon which all life depends. Chapter 13 specifically identifies the need to "encourage regional, national and international networking of people's initiatives and the activities of international, regional and local non-governmental organizations working on mountain development."

Mountains are important and in need of increased global awareness, support and coordinated action because:

  • Mountains provide globally significant natural and cultural diversity

* Much of the world's fresh water originates in mountains. * Mountains are islands of biodiversity in seas of humanly-transformed landscapes. * Forest products, minerals, and hydroelectric power are harvested from mountain ecosystems. * Unique and diverse cultures inhabit mountain ecosystems. * Mountains have profound spiritual, religious, and sacred significance for many cultures. * Mountains provide recreational and renewal opportunities for populations in increasingly crowded cities.

  • Mountain communities are among the world's poorest and most marginalized

* Poverty levels are exceptionally high in remote mountain communities. * Access to education, decision-making powers, financial resources and tenure rights is severely limited. * Traditional cultures are becoming assimilated into mainstream cultures as -in and -out migration trends accelerate. * External economic and political pressures often require that mountain communities exploit their resource base for survival. * Diversified traditional economies have access to market opportunities only on unfavorable terms of trade.

The Mountain Forum is a multi-sectoral, global, mountain network that should be considered a resource in supporting any International Year of the Mountains. Coordinators and members of our network are dedicated to working to advocate for mountains and as such pledge to work in cooperation with other local, regional, national and international partners in any effort that furthers this common goal. In particular, we pledge full cooperation with and endorsement of the initiative taken by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the official UN Task Manager agency for Chapter 13 in supporting the proposal made by the Kryghyz Republic. We strongly and respectfully recommend that the proposal be adopted.

With highest regards,

D. Jane Pratt President and CEO The Mountain Institute


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Report on the Global Threats to the Australian Snow Country Conference

The Australian Alps Liaison Committee conference on Global Threats to the Australian Snow Country was held on February 17-19 at Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains. Abstracts from the conference are presented here. A report on the conference is presented here:

Global Threats to the Australian Alps Report by Ken Green
The Conference on Global Threats to the Australian Alps was held at the Snowy Mountains Visitors Centre of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Jindabyne over 17-19 February  1998 with between 80 and 100 people attending various sessions. The conference was sandwiched between a spectacular bushfire just outside Jindabyne four nights before the conference and an extensive bushfire three days after. As a contrast and to emphasise the variability that already exists in the local climate system, conference registrants arriving from the east on the morning of the conference were able to see the Snowy Mountains from Targan-gil (Mt. Kosciuszko) in the south to Jagungal in the north blanketed in snow, despite February being the month least likely to produce such a vista in Australia.

One abstract was missing from the first newsletter and is included here:


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Mountain Forum
Anyone wishing to subscribe to the Mountain Forum is advised to contact the Mountain Forum Moderator at You will receive updates from the mountain network about what is happening around the world.

A recent Survey of Membership of the Mountain Forum showed that it had 589 registered members as of March 1, 1998. Below are updated, abbreviated survey results from all Mountain Forum registrants.

Mountain Forum Members currently reside in:

Africa (3%)
Asia/Pacific (25%)
Europe (26%)
Latin America (14%)
North America (32%)

(Each of the following questions permitted multiple answers, so numbers and percentages total more than 589 members and more than 100%.)

Members worked on mountains in general (27.3%), one mountain range or massif (30.9%), several mountain regions (38.0%), one particular mountain (4.1%). Members were generally professionals, working in mountains or on mountain issues (72.3%), people interested in mountains (39.2%), visitors or users of mountains (26.1%) and mountain inhabitants (24.6%).They were generally involved in activism - (17.1%), administration (12.1%), college or graduate studies (15.3%), policy development (37.4%), project implementation (43.3%), research (64.0%), teaching (28.0%) and other (12.7%).

Contact details: Mountain Forum Global Information Server Node The Mountain Institute P.O. Box 907, Franklin WV 26807 USA Phone: 1-304-358-2401 Fax: 1-304-358-2400 E-mail: Web:

The Mountain Forum's Global Information Server Node has compiled a bibliography of recent mountain-related publications. It can be found in the Mountain Forum On-line Library at:

If you do not have access to the World Wide Web, you can request to have a copy sent via e-mail (it is a five page document). Please send a message to with your request.

References from a recent electronic conference (finished in May this year) on Community-based Mountain Tourism are now available on-line. The documents are available in the Mountain Forum's on-line library at <> (Click on "Resources").

Some other publications that might be of interest are:

* Odell, M. 1996. Ecotourism in Nepal: a means of "Paying for Mountains". Mountain Forum Discussion Paper, PFM Conference, 1996. g96/8696c.htm.

* Walker, S.L. 1995. Measuring Ecotourism Impact Perceptions. Southwest Texas State University. San Marcos, Texas.

* UIAA. 1997. UIAA International Mountain Code.

* German Federal Ministry for the Environment. 1997. Biological Diversity and Sustainable Tourism - Preparation of Global Guidelines (preliminary draft, with amendments by the International Workshop, Heidelberg).

Man and the Biosphere program
For more information about the Man and the Biosphere program, please visit their web site at:

More information on this topic is available in Price, M.F. 1995. Mountain Research in Europe: An Overview of MAB Research from the Pyrenees to Siberia. Man and the Biosphere Series, Volume 14. UNESCO and the Parthenon Publishing Group, Paris.

A request for all past and present snow and ice climbers and spring ski tourers in the Blue Lake area
As we lack glaciers in the Australian Alps it is difficult to obtain a climatic record of the recent past. One good indicator of the local warming which may be occurring as a result of more general global warming is a change in the time of breakup of ice on lakes. This is being recorded overseas as part of the International Tundra Experiment and a project by the Australian Institute of Alpine Studies is currently collecting information here. A very popular time for people to photograph Blue Lake is during the thaw while there is still some ice on the lake. If you have photographs of Blue Lake with some ice on it and know the date including year on which it was taken could you please estimate the percentage cover of ice (if possible) or even describe it in terms such as ‘some’, ‘a lot’, ’just one piece’ and send this information including your contact details to
Dr. Ken Green, Australian Institute of Alpine Studies, c/o PO Box 2228,
Jindabyne NSW 2627, or fax 02 6456 2240, or email

Hopefully there will be no need to examine photographs. Thankyou for your help.

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Re-assessment of Burramys parvus population size and distribution of habitat in Kosciusko National Park: 1997 Progress Report.
L. S. Broome, K. Green
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum Burramys parvus is a small (35g), terrestrial Burramyid marsupial confined to small patches of boulder-dominated habitat in the Australian Alps. Described from fossil remains by Robert Broom in 1895, it was first discovered as an extant species when found in a ski lodge at Mt Hotham in Victoria in 1966. Surveys in the early 1970’s and 1980’s indicated the presence of three disjunct populations in Victoria and one in New South Wales, within Kosciuszko National Park. All of these populations occur above the level of the winter snowline and are widely separated by low lying valleys. In 1979, the total population size across the species’ range was estimated at about 2600 adults; 1300 in NSW, the remaining 1300 distributed across the three populations in Victoria. However, a fifth population of up to 300 adults has recently been discovered at Mt Buller (1995) and is currently under study (Mansergh pers. comm.).

During initial surveys in the early 1980’s the population in New South Wales was estimated by Judy Caughley (1986) at 500 adults in 8 km2 of habitat. These estimates were based on average densities across all surveyed sites, with no stratification according to habitat quality. In 1989, this estimate was increased to 1312 adults based on higher numbers in four of the previously identified habitat patches which had been monitored for three years. However, further surveys in other patches during the 1990’s indicated that habitat quality varied greatly between patches. It appeared that the sites used to increase the original population estimate were of high quality compared to many of the other sites within the alpine area, therefore applying densities derived from them to the total 8 km2 of habitat mapped by Caughley (1986) would overinflate the total population estimate. Additionally, there were indications that the original extent of habitat had been greatly overestimated. Because of the high degree of uncertainty regarding the total population size of B. parvus in New South Wales and the relative value of each habitat patch, it was considered necessary to reevaluate these estimates.

A helicopter reconnaissance of the possible sites originally identified by Caughley (1986) was undertaken in June 1997. Two possible areas of habitat not previously identified were located. One was within the tree-line 1 km south of Thomson’s Plain, the second was north of the original survey area, around Gungarten Pass and Kerries Ridge. Boulderfields and suitable camping sites for remote area survey teams were identified from the helicopter, in preparation for a major trapping effort to commence in November 1997. In November, trapping began at the northern end of the distribution around Schlinks Pass and included boulderfields in the Gungarten-White’s River area, Dicky Cooper Bogong and south to the area around Blue Lake and Headley Tarn. These areas were accessed by foot. Trapping in the remaining southern areas began in early December, in conjunction with trapping of four sites which have been monitored annually since 1987. Betts Creek, Wrights Creek and boulderfields in the upper Snowy valley and Etheridge Ridge were accessed by foot. The remaining, remote areas on the western side of the main range behind Lake Cootapatamba, Mt Townsend, Anton - Anderson and Windy Creek were reached by helicopter, with survey teams camping over the 3 nights of survey.

Most of the sites were surveyed successfully during this effort which involved 6791 trapnights, 38 boxes of "Elliot" live-capture traps (25 in a box), 20 volunteers with their food and equipment, co-ordination of helicopter drop-offs and pickups from a temporary heli-port at Charlotte Pass and copious amounts of organisation. However, we have yet to adequately survey what appears to be a high quality sub-population associated with the western slopes of Mt Kosciuszko and the valley below, and the possible Thomson’s Plain site. Much of this site is below 1650 m elevation which is the lower limit of the known distribution of B. parvus in Kosciusko National Park, therefore may not be suitable as habitat.

Mapping of the extent of all habitat patches and measurement of a range of habitat variables at each of the trapping sites commenced in February 1998. The aim of this part of the exercise is to quantify what factors contribute towards providing high quality habitat for B. parvus, to stratify all B. parvus habitat in Kosciusko National Park according to habitat quality, and ultimately to provide a revised, more accurate total population estimate. Density estimates and a final estimate of total population size will not be possible until the Kosciusko and Thomson’s Plain sites are trapped and the habitat mapping has been completed. If funding is available this will be commenced in November-December 1998.

However, preliminary results confirm the 1990’s suggestion that the extent of habitat had been greatly overestimated. Additionally, because many of the patches appear to be of very low quality and support low numbers of B. parvus the total population size may be less than the original estimate of 500 adults. This is largely because what had been regarded as supporting about half of the population, the western scarp of Mt Townsend, appears to be of very poor quality and substantially less in extent than the original estimate of 4.35 km2. The extent of habitat at a number of other sites had also been greatly overestimated. We anticipate that final results of this study will be available in early 1999.

This research was funded by the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife of New South Wales, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and Perisher Blue Pty Ltd. The Snowy Mountains Authority kindly provided helicopter time. We are extremely grateful to the volunteers who assisted with the trapping surveys.

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Geoconservation in alpine environments
submitted by Kevin Kiernan

The landforms that surround us enrich and sustain our lives in the same way as do the plants and animals with which we share the planet. Landforms may be of conservation significance for their intrinsic value; for the role they play in sustaining natural processes, including ecological processes; or for their instrumental value to humankind in terms of scientific, recreational, educational, inspirational or economic opportunities. Geoconservation is concerned with the identification and management of important landforms, and also geological sites, soil reference sites, and sites where natural geoprocesses can be observed in operation.

Just as there are different species and communities of plants and animals, so too are there different types of geophenomena such as landforms. Like plant and animal species, some types of landforms are common and some are rare, some are robust and some are fragile. It is appropriate that these considerations are recognised in conservation management, including management to protect environmental diversity.

However, sites of geoheritage significance are seldom embraced in nature conservation programs unless there is some associated consideration such as their scenic or habitat value. This neglect occurs despite the often considerable value of landforms in their own right. It often occurs even despite the fact that landforms and soils form the stage upon which all terrestrial life exists, and the strong influence geological factors exert upon the nature and distribution of the plants and animals that are generally the focus of conservation initiatives.

Given that environmental diversity consists of much more than