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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 13:43 GMT
Mountain conservation meet in Nepal
Mount Everest
Mountains account for more than a fourth of the earth's surface
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By Sushil Sharma
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu
line

Experts from around the world are meeting in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, to discuss how to protect mountains from ecological threats.

The United Nations has declared 2002 as the international year of mountains.

The Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (RONAST) and a number of organisations including the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund have organised the meeting.

The Vice-Chancellor of the RONAST, Dayananda Bajracharya, said the delegates would deliberate on ways to improve the living conditions of mountain people without upsetting the ecological balance.

It has been estimated that mountains account for more than a fourth of the world's land surface.

Poverty

Most of the mountain people are poor and depend on mountain resources like forests to earn a living.

Experts say unplanned and haphazard use of such resources have caused the rapid degradation of mountainous areas, leading to floods, landslides and soil erosion.

Rice terraces and villages on Himalayan slopes in Nepal
Human activities are threatening mountains

This has also threatened the natural habitat and local wildlife.

Experts say that efforts aimed at mountain conservation have suffered due to the absence of alternative sources of livelihood available to mountain people.

The Kathmandu meeting ends on Friday and is expected to adopt a joint declaration on protecting mountains.

See also:

18 Sep 00 | South Asia
Nepal's growing rubbish pile
06 Sep 00 | South Asia
Nepalese scorn Everest threat
14 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Himalayan ice tells warming story
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