Many of the world's mountain ecosystems are moving along trajectories that couple high rates of environmental change with strong economic changes, whose collective effect may alter the ability of mountain regions to provide critical goods and services, both to mountain inhabitants and lowland communities. In order to address the environmental challenges facing the world's mountain regions in the 21st Century, we will develop an integrative research strategy for detecting signals of global environmental change in mountain environments, for defining the consequences of these changes for mountain regions as well as lowland areas dependent on mountain resources, and for facilitating the development of sustainable resource management regimes for mountain regions. Following a kick-off meeting, the details of the research strategy will be formulated through a series of product-oriented workshops dedicated to:
1) Long-term Monitoring,
2) Integrated Modelling,
3) Process Studies, and
4) Sustainable Development. The concepts developed in these Thematic Workshops will be revisited, refined and synthesised during a final Open Science Conference on Global Change in Mountain Regions. By gearing the research strategy toward implementation in mountain Biosphere Reserves, the project will take advantage of the existing UNESCO infrastructure and ongoing Global Change research in these areas. The structure of UNESCO mountain Biosphere Reserves provides ideal natural Global Change laboratories with core protected mountainous areas surrounded by lower-elevation buffer zones that are more strongly influenced by human activities. Adapting the research strategy for implementation in UNESCO’s mountain Biosphere Reserves in both developed and developing countries will promote European scientific participation, capacity building and leadership. This will be achieved through the active participation of Biosphere Reserve managers in the development of the research strategy.'
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