SARAJEVO, December 11 (FENA) – International Mountain Day, celebrated each year on December 11, this year is marked with a motto “Sustainable Mountain Tourism”.
It is an opportunity to send a global message of warning of the growing threat to this irreplaceable natural resource, which is increasingly threatened by human factors – the exploitation of forests and rivers, worsened by global warming, which causes alarming melting rates of glaciers, the world’s largest drinking water resource.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, a mountainous country, has much to be proud of – its territory is woven with mountain ridges and many peaks higher than 2,000 meters above sea level. Mountains covered with forest ranges, often untouched by human hands, are home to numerous animal and plant species, many of which are endemic. The mountaineers of our country are the greatest guardians of these mountain massifs – they visit them, admire their timeless beauty and tirelessly protect them from various types of pollution and destruction. But their power in this field is largely limited.
In 2002, the United Nations declared December 11 the International Day of the Mountains. Since then, every year for this day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which is in charge of marking the Mountain Day, proposes a topic to the world public and invites to point out and raise awareness of the importance of mountain areas around the world, the existing problems and impact that mountains have on the natural and social characteristics of these areas and the people who live in them.
Bearing in mind the crucial role of mountains in maintaining ecosystems and their sensitivity to climate change, the aim of marking this International Day is to raise awareness of the importance of mountains.
Although many do not know, it is interesting to note that mountains make up a quarter of the world’s landscape, are the world’s main source of drinking water and other resources, are important centers of biodiversity, geography and landscape diversity and home to rare plant and animal species.
Mountains are home to 15 percent of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s animals and plants. The mountains provide water for the daily life of half of humanity. They host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and 30 percent of all key areas of biodiversity.
When it comes to this year’s International Mountain Day theme, sustainable mountain tourism can contribute to creating additional and alternative living options and promoting poverty alleviation, social inclusion, as well as landscape and biodiversity conservation. It is a way to preserve natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, to promote local crafts and high-value products and to celebrate many traditional practices such as local festivals.
Mountain tourism attracts about 15 to 20 percent of global tourism. However, tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which affects economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. In the mountains, pandemic restrictions have further heightened the vulnerability of mountain communities.
This crisis can be seen as an opportunity to rethink mountain tourism and its impact on natural resources and livelihoods, to better manage it and to use it for a more resilient, green and inclusive future.