Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)

Working groups

Mountain biodiversity and land-use change

Coordinator: Eva Spehn
Members: In cooperation with FAO, UNESCO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Period: 2003 - 2006
Status: closed

Human interaction with regional species and climatic drivers has shaped mountain biodiversity for centuries. Many traditional upland grazing systems are classical examples of sustainable management. Animal husbandry for meat, milk, or wool production represents the major use of highland biota around the globe. In recent decades, however, road construction has made access easier, population pressure has grown, and migration has led to the collapse of traditional modes of land and resource use in mountain areas worldwide. Mining, industrialization, intensification of agriculture and tourism have all led to pressures on biodiversity that were unknown before. Moreover, poverty has caused upslope migration and forced farmer to use inappropriate land e.g. on erosion-prone slopes for agriculture, leading to significant biodiversity or soil losses in fragile mountain ecosystems.


  • Workshops on biological richness of tropical and subtropical upland biota under human influence, in cooperation with FAO, UNESCO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Researchers and managers from African and Andean states in Latin America came together in order to collect and consolidate available knowledge on the link of mountain diversity with fire, grazing, and erosion.
  • Synthesis book on land use effects on mountain biodiversity published in 2006