Mountains are complex and fragile ecosystems characterised by vertically, highly differentiated climatic conditions and often by an abundance of water and rich biodiversity. Mountains are high-risk environments: avalanches, glacial lake outbursts, landslides and earthquakes threaten life in mountain areas. Remoteness and difficult access hamper development in mountain regions. Therefore, mountain areas are often marginalized. Despite these constraints, mountains offer significant opportunities. Mountain dwellers have adapted to life in steep and harsh conditions and have developed sophisticated techniques for farming, water use, forestry and communication. The agro-biodiversity as a function of altitude, exposition and farmers’ crop selection is huge. Mountain inhabitants have also developed a rich cultural diversity. Therefore, people living in lowland areas or in big cities increasingly prefer mountains for recreation.
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