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C O U R S E 
Mountains 101
Zac Robinson, University of Alberta
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Why do Mountains Matter?
Notes taken on March 27, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
why mountains matter
important in almost every country
compose one quarter of the world's surface
one quarter of the world's population live in or close to mountains
mountain ecosystems
almost all world's major rivers have their head waters in mountains
more than half of the world's population relies on the fresh water that collects in mountainous regions
drinking water
domestic use
hydro power from mountain water sheds make up nearly 20% of the world's entire electricity supply
mountain forests
provide millions of timber and other products
capture and store rainfall and moisture
maintain water supply
regulate river flow
reducing erosion and down stream sedimentation
geological forces
raised mountains up
concentrated assemblages of minerals
mountain mines are a major source of the worlds ores and precious metals
hot spots for biodiversity
provide habitats that support and sustain a large variety of different species
increasing altitudes create a dense juxtaposition of differing ecological communities
can range radically from dense tropical jungles to hard glacial ice with just a few kilometers
many mountains can be thought of as islands
rise above the vast plains of human transformed landscapes
many plants and animals are endemic to mountain regions
evolved in isolation over millennia to inhabit specialized alpine environments
function as biological corridors connecting isolated habitats or protected areas
allowing species the critical space they need to migrate and thrive
Western Canadian Rocky Mountains
provide the large wild spaces
support grizzly bears and other large carnivores
provide sanctuaries for plants and animals long since displaced from the transformed lowlands
volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains along the border of Rwanda in East Africa
the last of the mountain gorillas live, numbering fewer than 300
biological diversity is link to cultural diversity
of the 1,054 languages spoken in New Guinea, 738 originate in the New Guinea highlands
these mountains cover 30% of the South Pacific island
the home of many indigenous peoples
Quechua people of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru in the South American Andes
the Southern Tuchone First Nations of the southern Yukon in Canada
Nakhi and Yi people of Hunan Province, China
Sherpa peoples in the Mr. Everest region in Nepal
world's most important food staples were domesticated in mountains
many of these systems are still in use today, e.g. in Asia
mountains are a major draw for global tourism
tourism is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries
sports and recreation
scenic beauty
meet and interact with people who live there
influx of visitors can provide
funds to promote sustainable development
too many people on fragile mountain ecosystems
loss of traditional cultural values
cultural significance
places of national embodiments
places to be exploited and developed for their natural resources
sites to be managed and controlled
places to be feared
testing grounds
places for salvation, embodiments of divine serenity
a destination to visit
sites of exclusion
debilitating poverty
places on society's margins
where communications are poor
where infrastructure, jobs, and services are sorely lacking
unique natural disasters such as floods and avalanches compound issues related to poverty
gentrified playgrounds for the urban rich holiday goers
locals are realizing they are unable to afford the very places where they grew up
foreign investment and hyperdevelopment