About the event
Inaugurated by the UN in 2003, this day is about celebrating the importance of mountains to our ecosystems and supporting those who protect them.
According to the UN: ‘Mountains are home to 15% of the world´s population and host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity’. This makes mountain ecosystems incredibly important places to protect.
In addition to this, the day recognises the indigenous people, men and women who live in mountain environments, protecting these important biodiversity hotspots. As with many threatened ecosystems we must recognise the importance of mountains to humanity and to those who call them home.
How to approach it
This is another great opportunity to encourage your students to connect with and understand our natural world. Seeing the importance of mountains to our own lives and recognising the mutual relationships between humans and these ecosystems is an important aspect of teaching sustainability.
A mountain is a subsection of the natural world like a forest, an ocean or a back garden. It’s not that any of these environments are more important than the others, it’s that taking time to think about them individually helps us to see our interconnected world in detail.
With that in mind, today should be about encouraging awe, wonder and curiosity about mountains and the plants, animals and people that call them home. A good way to do this might be to show a quick nature video about a mountain animal or show your class pictures of mountain environments. Do an imaginative exercise in which students close their eyes and imagine a mountain ecosystem with its forests, rivers, plants, animals and local people. Ask students: what does this feel like? What is different about this kind of landscape to others?
Finally, explore the theme of nature connection in more detail by asking: why do some communities see mountains as persons? What does it mean when a place is given the same agency or rights as a person? This may be a strange concept for students, but stick with it. Think through what similarities a mountain and a person might have. For example, mountains are filled with life too; animal and plant life that also has needs and desires. Encourage students to get creative with their answers here. What’s important is introducing the idea that the world around us is alive too and our actions should take this into account.
Mountains are a hugely important type of ecosystem that provide freshwater for half of humanity. Have you ever walked up a mountain? How did being in that environment make you feel? What do you like the most about mountains? What makes you feel the most connected to them?