[Solved ] How can the mountain ecosystem be restored from the negative impact of development initiatives and tourism? ( UPSC GS-1 Mains 2019)

Mountains are an important source of water, energy, and biological diversity. Furthermore, they are a source of key resources such as minerals, forest products, and agricultural products, and of recreation. As a major ecosystem representing the complex and interrelated ecology of our planet, mountain environments are essential to the survival of the global ecosystem. Mountain ecosystems are, however, rapidly changing.

 Ecosystem : Developmental initiatives and Tourism in Mountains Adverse Impact:

 • Dams and Roads: Dams and roads can be hazardous, if they are not properly constructed and managed. Disasters in mountains, and the forces that trigger them, affect larger areas, sometimes entire watersheds or river systems.

 • Mining: The forces that shaped the world’s mountains also made them rich in minerals and metals, including gold, copper, iron, silver and zinc. Owing to increasing demand, mines are now being opened even in remote  mountain areas, particularly in developing countries.

 •Mining can bring large benefits, but it can also be devastating to fragile mountain ecosystems and local cultures, destroying the livelihood base of mountain communities. Massive quantities of waste, surface dumps and slag heaps are only the most visible consequences.

 • Mountain Tourism: Mountain areas are second only to coasts and islands as popular tourism destinations, generating 15-20 percent of annual global tourism, or US$70-90 billion per year. With more than 50 million visitors per year, mountains are some of the world’s most important destinations for tourism. They have however, given rise to problem of Burgeoning

 indiscriminate construction along the fragile ecosystem, plastic waste in these areas are also an adverse : impact of growing tourism.

 Restoration of Mountainous Ecosystem

 • Infrastructure Development: Only small dams and

 greater investments in road construction and restoration, improved road design, and better maintenance practices are needed to limit the negative impacts of mountain roads.

 • Eco-Tourism: Tourism can have a range of impacts on mountain ecosystems, communities and economies.

 While many of the impacts described above are negative, tourism can also generate positive impacts as it can serve as a supportive force for peace, foster pride in cultural traditions, help avoid urban relocation by creating local jobs, increase visitor awareness and appreciation of natural, cultural and historical values and assets.

 • Good Practice in Action-White pod: A unique tourist camp located in the Swiss Alps, is made up of semipermanent dome-shaped tents, or pods, that serve as guest rooms, with a central chalet housing the dining room, common room and bathroom facilities. The pods are heated with wood burning stoves and all furniture is made from recycled materials or sustainably harvested wood.

 • Educate visitors about the effects of climate change on mountains and snow-based recreational activities: Offer suggestions for how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, using low-polluting vehicles, removing ski racks and replacing snow tires with normal tires at the end of the season, and

 carpooling or taking shuttles to recreational sites.

 • Payments for Environmental Services (PES) such as charging entrance fees might also offer a valuable long term solution within the tourism industry, as tourism relies heavily on the existence of sound natural environments.

 Developmental initiatives and Tourism in Mountains:

Ecosystem Impact:

Over the generations, mountain people have learned how to live with the threat of natural hazards and have developed well-adapted and risk-resilient land-use systems. However, there is growing evidence that many mountain regions have become increasingly disaster-prone over the past few decades.

 • Dams and Roads: Dams and roads can be hazardous if they are not properly constructed and managed. Disasters in mountains, and the forces that trigger them, affect larger areas, sometimes entire watersheds or river systems.

 • Mining: The forces that shaped the world’s mountains also made them rich in minerals and metals, including gold, copper, iron, silver and zinc. Owing to increasing demand, mines are now being opened even in remote mountain areas, particularly in developing countries.

 • Mining can bring large benefits, but it can also be devastating to fragile mountain ecosystems and local cultures, destroying the livelihood base of mountain communities. Massive quantities of waste, surface dumps and slag heaps are only the most visible consequences.

 • Mountain Tourism: Mountain areas are second only to coasts and islands as popular tourism destinations, generating 15-20 percent of annual global tourism, or US$70-90 billion per year.

  • With more than 50 million visitors per year, mountains are some of the world’s most important destinations for tourism.
  • Beautiful landscapes, sporting and recreational possibilities and the unique traditions, cultures and lifestyles of mountain people attract increasing numbers of visitors, mainly from lowland cities.
  • The increasing exploitation of mountain areas by outside forces such as commercial agriculture, logging, mining and tourism enterprises puts additional dangerous pressure on these fragile ecosystems.
  • As a result, such events harm not only mountain communities but also livelihoods further downstream, affecting millions of people.

Restoration of Mountainous Ecosystem:

 About 10 per cent of the world’s population depends on mountain resources. A much larger percentage draws on other mountain resources, including and especially water. Mountains are a storehouse of biological diversity and endangered species. Most global mountain areas are experiencing environmental degradation. Hence, the proper management of mountain resources and socio-economic development of the people deserves immediate action.

 • Infrastructure Development: Only small dams and greater investments in road construction and restoration, improved road design, and better maintenance practices are needed to limit the negative impacts of mountain roads.

 • Eco-Tourism: Tourism can have a range of impacts on mountain ecosystems, communities and economies. While many of the impacts described above are negative, tourism can also generate positive impacts as it can serve as a supportive force for peace, foster pride in cultural traditions, help avoid urban relocation by creating local jobs, increase visitor awareness and appreciation of natural, cultural and historical values and assets.

 • Good Practice in Action-Whitepod, a unique tourist camp located in the Swiss Alps, is made up of semi-permanent dome-shaped tents, or pods, that serve as guest rooms, with a central chalet housing the dining room, common room and bathroom facilities. The pods are heated with woodburning stoves and all furniture is made from recycled materials or sustainably harvested wood.

 • Minimize the use of motorized transport in and around mountain areas – Wherever possible, use local non-motorized means of transport, such as mules and horses, and avoid developing tours that are overly dependent on motorized transportation and activities.

 – Share vehicles and transportation infrastructure with other tour operators or service providers where possible.

 – Choose routes and time schedules that minimize congestion and distance travelled.

 – Avoid the use of vehicles with a larger seating or engine capacity than is required for the tour.

 • Minimize trash generation

 – Avoid over-packaged goods and disposable items.

 – Purchase in bulk and use recyclable and refillable containers where possible.

 – Keep waste and chemicals away from natural water bodies.

 – Avoid the use of cleaning products, soaps, detergents and toothpaste near or in fresh water.

 • Educate visitors about the effects of climate change on mountains and snow-based recreational activities. Offer suggestions for how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, using low-polluting vehicles, removing ski racks and replacing snow tires with normal tires at the end of the season, and carpooling or taking shuttles to recreational sites.

 Conclusion:

 To achieve sustainable mountaindevelopment, it is essential that all concerned stakeholders are involved and that awareness is raised about mountain ecosystems, their fragility and prevalent problems, and about the ways of addressing them.

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