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Geo–ecology and management of sensitive montane landscapes

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Montane (alpine) areas are generally of high value for nature conservation. Such environments and the habitats they support are dynamic and often fragile. They are vulnerable to disturbance from a range of human activities and are responsive to climate changes over short and long timescales. Biodiversity and conservation values are closely linked to geological history, geomorphological processes and soils, and it is crucial that management systems are based on understanding these links.

There are many similarities between the Cairngorm Mountains (Scotland), the Giant Mountains (Czech Republic) and Abisko Mountains (Sweden) in terms of geology, geomorphology, ecology, links with biodiversity and high conservation importance. Comparable pressures and management issues involve, to varying degrees, a history of human use and impacts from deforestation, pasturing, grazing, recreation and atmospheric pollution. Landscape change therefore involves a complex interplay between natural and anthropogenic factors. Managing such change requires better understanding of the geo–ecological processes involved and the factors that determine landscape sensitivity. This is illustrated through a simple framework and examples from the three areas. Comparison of landscape sensitivity between similar montane areas, but in different geographic locations and climatic environments, should allow more informed management planning and a precautionary approach in advance of further changes in human activity and from predicted global warming scenarios.

Keywords: arctic–alpine; denudation; periglacial

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh, UK 2: Krkonoše National Park Administration, Vrchlabí, Czech Republic 3: Abisko Scientific Research Station, Sweden 4: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: January 1, 2002


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