Mountain environments are home to a vast portion of our planet’s unique biodiversity and, due to the popularity of mountain sports, including climbing, hiking, mountain biking, shooting and skiing to name but a few, are some of our most vulnerable landscapes. In addition to the impacts of erosion and overuse, mountain regions are amongst the areas that suffer most from global warming and climate change – the past decade has seen immense portions and even entire glaciers disappearing from arctic regions. On World Environmental Day (June 5th 2010) The International Mountaineering Federation UIAA (Union International des Associations d’Alpinisme) announced plans to introduce a Mountain Protection Label.
The certification scheme plans to help mountaineers to minimize their impact on the environment, awarding tour operators and mountain recreation organizations which commit themselves to acting according to high mountain protection standards.
To establish these high standards, UIAA will use UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Program) guidelines, set out in “Mountains and Tourism A Practical Guide to Managing the Environmental and Social Impacts of Mountain Tours”, as the basis for certification. Linda McMillan, UIAA Mountain Protection Commission president and Deputy Vice-Chairman, IUCN-WCPA Mountains Biome says that “The Mountain Protection Label is designed to be an easy to use high-value tool that enables tour operators and their clients to minimize impacts on our precious mountain landscapes.”
The proposal has received much support from mountain and climbing communities worldwide, and has attracted particular enthusiasm from the Nepal Mountaineering Association; President Ang Tshering Sherpa says "The Mountain Protection Label is a very exciting idea. Currently, we are investing a lot of time communicating with potential clients to convince them of our commitment to social, cultural and environmental protection. This Label will provide operators like us a convenient and trusted way to prove of our strong commitment to mountain protection ethics."
The UIAA plans for certified companies and organisations to be able to vote on the governance of the new label and hopes to develop a strong, international community, united in their concern for safeguarding and sustaining mountain environments.
Lucy's article was also posted on http://www.responsibletravelnews.com/
Image from UIAA