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Guidelines for Mountain Protected Areas

Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)

Synthesised and edited by Duncan Poore, IUCN

The World Conservation Union, 1992. Published by IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. A contribution towards the printing of this report has been provided by Unesco under Subvention DDG/772 SUB/22/SC. IUCN: The World Conservation Union. Copyright: (1992) International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Reproduction of this publication for educational or other noncommercial purposesis authorised without prior permission from the copyright holder. Reproductionfor resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without the prior writtenpermission of the copyright holder. Citation: Poore, Duncan (Ed.), 1992.Guidelines for Mountain Protected Areas. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge,UK. 56 pp. ISBN: 283 1701112. Printed by: Unwin Brothers Limited, Old Woking, UK

Cover photo: The rugged erosionshattered volcanic plug of Mawenzi (5149m) is amain feature of Mt Kilimanjaro National Park and World Heritage Site, Tanzania.Photo credits (cover and text): IUCN/Jim Thorsell. Produced by: IUCN PublicationsServices Unit, Cambridge, UK, on desktop publishing equipment purchased through agift from Mrs Julia Ward. Available from: IUCN Publications Services Unit, 18 laHuntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 ODJ, UK or IUCN Communications Division, RueMauverney 28, CH1196 Gland, Switzerland

The designations of geographical entities in this report, and the presentation ofthe material, do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the partof IUCN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or of itsauthorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The views of the contributors expressed in this report do not necessarily reflectthose of IUCN. The text of this report is printed on Reprise Matt recycled paper.



Introduction: mountains in general

Mountain protected areas: to protect what?

General criteria for the selection of mountain protected areas (Guideline 1)

The preservation of biodiversity and physiographic features (Guidelines 2-17)

Transfrontier mountain protected areas (Guidelines 18-29)

The religious and cultural significance of mountains (Guidelines 30-43)

Mountain protected areas and the cultural and economic life of the communities in them (Guidelines 44-51)

The owners and users of land within mountain protected areas (Guidelines 52-61)

Water and soil conservation in mountain protected areas (Guidelines 62-72)

Management to minimise physical and biological damage (Guidelines 73-121)

Fire (Guideline 73)

Trampling and other physical damage to vegetation and soils (Guidelines 74-79)

Pollution and waste disposal (Guidelines 80-84)

Alien organisms (Guidelines 85-89)

Dispersal of plant or animal pathogens (Guidelines 90-93)

Use of fuelwood (Guidelines 94-97)

Hunting (Guidelines 98-99)

Construction (Guidelines 100-105)

Grazing (Guidelines 106-110)

Traditional use of plant resources (Guidelines 111-114)

Scenery (Guidelines 115-121)

Management for visitors' hearth, safety and enjoyment (Guidelines 122-153)

Issues associated with climatic change (Guidelines 154-161) Epilogue


IUCN Categories of protected areas

Participants in Parks, Peaks, and People consultation who wrote the guidelines


The special significance and characteristics of mountains require in many instances that major portions of them be afforded extra care or protection. Designation of areas as parks, reserves, sanctuaries and the like has recognised these special qualities and "senses of place".

Some reasons for protected area status and a few examples follow:

Mountains are often associated with "sacred" aspects of nature. There may be pilgrimage to holy hills, or taboo places of fear that present unusual management situations (e.g. Maria Lionza, Huang shan, BromoTenggerSumeru).

Mountains have mystique for scholars, visitors, and the general public. This has plus and minus effects (e.g. Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Lorentz). Traditional indigenous groups with threatened cultures often occupy or use the areas. They add greatly to the interest, can contribute much, and represent a clear case for cultural diversity conservation. Cultural diversity may be more threatened than biodiversity (e.g. Pico de Neblina, Annapurna).

They are headwaters of valuable surface water resources. Special care is needed to safeguard water quality for all downstream sites. The few remaining economically feasible water storage reservoirs for water and power are in mountain valleys. Of particular significance is cloudforest, which has endemic species and hydrological resources (e.g. Mount Kinabalu, Australian Alps).

Mountain biota, under climate stresses at the best of times, are particularly vulnerable to climate change from increasing greenhouse gases, as well as from exogenous air pollution. Protected areas crossing several attitudinal belts are needed. They offer great possibilities for global climate change and air quality research and monitoring (e.g. High Tatras, Great Smokies).

Mountains are a last refuge for many rare plants and animals eliminated from more transformed lowlands. They are vital to biological diversity conservation. Freestanding mountains become biological islands (e.g. Taranaki, Mount Apo).

These are dynamic landscapes of relatively rapid change. Volcanism, uplift, erosion, glacial outbursts, seismic activity, avalanches, and torrents all contribute to significant rapid alterations in topography, vegetation, and land use. These are highenergy environments where some control over human alterations is often needed (e.g. Hawaii Volcanoes, Tongariro).

There is a concentration of high scenic value, attractions for tourists and recreational use. Management is needed to maintain these values (e.g. Mount Cook, Hohe Tauern).

The concentration of recreation/access in confined corridors demands a proactive policy and management approach to avoid overcrowding, degradation of access routes and campsites (e.g. rubbish, sanitation) (e.g. Himalayan parks, Tasmanian/New Zealand national parks, Huascaran).

Mountaineering expedition pressures demand positive control to avoid site degradation, and require that equipment/materials/refuse brought in be taken out (e.g. Sagarmatha [Everest]).

Mountain ranges often form country boundaries, and thus offer opportunities for the establishment of international border parks, peace parks and cooperative international action (e.g. Pyrenees Occidentales and Ordessa, Sagarmatha and Qomolangma, and the proposed Mont Blanc Park and convention on the conservation of the Alps).

Mountains are indeed special places. Many of them have received legislative recognition by designation as parks of reserves of various kinds. Worldwide, in fact, there are some 430 mountain protected areas representing a network of most of the outstanding mountain or mountain ranges on earth, and meeting fairly rigid criteria defined in Section 1.

It is for the planners and managers of this estate and any future areas that the guidelines in this booklet are intended. They were formulated for mountain protected areas in the widest sense of both terms╩ "mountain" and "protected areas".

These are general guidelines or recommendations. Specific guidelines, hopefully using these as a foundation, need to be developed at a national level. At this level they should be much more specific, and should have local community input tomeet the special needs and circumstances which prevail at any specific site. These guidelines are not presented in any paternalistic way, but offered as a sharing of experience by 40 scientists and managers In over 30 countries.

The scientists and managers produced these guidelines in working groups at an international consultation on "Protected Areas in Mountain Environments", more distinctively known as "Parks, Peaks and People". This consultation was organised by the East West Center's Environment and Policy Institute, and cosponsored by IUCN's Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, the International Office of the US National Parks Service, and the Woodlands Mountain Institute. The International Mountain Society was a collaborator. It was held in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from October 27 to November 2, 1991.

It was the thesis of this consultation, and the rationale for convening it, that mountains possess biophysical and cultural characteristics which merit special consideration and treatment in the matter of preservation and conservation. These include their threedimensional nature involving steep slopes, attitudinal belts of varying ecosystems in a short distance, their different exposures or aspects and climates, and their frequent characteristics of spirituality, remoteness, inaccessibility and great cultural diversity islands in a sea of tamed and transformed environment. Because of their elevation and steepness and the processes of erosion, tectonic action and mountain building, they are earth features of a dynamic nature, subject not only to many natural hazards but also more susceptible to humaninitiated damage than are other terrains. Planning, design and management of mountain protected areas thus call for a great sensitivity to special cultural and biophysical attributes of these environments.

It was a recognition of the special nature of mountains and the impact of development on them that led to a previous initiative by IUCN back in the late 1970s. Again, based on a convocation of mountain researchers and land managers in New Zealand, Drs Ray Dasmann and Duncan Poore produced an excellent booklet Ecological guidelines for balanced land use, conservation and development in high mountains. This present booklet is directed specifically to mountain protected areas, but is patterned on this previous publication.

In view of his long association as an ecologist in high country, and especially because of his previous authorship of the general ecological guidelines for mountains, it is very fitting that Dr. Poore took on the job of synthesis and editing of the work of the 40 mountain men and women at the Hawaii consultation.

These individuals gave unstintingly of their time, and we are grateful to them.

Their names are listed in an appendix to this volume. We thank those who laboured in the working group reports and those who reviewed the first draft. We wish to single out P.H.C. "Bin"" Lucas who, at the time of the consultation and production of this booklet, was Chairman of the Commission of National Parks and Protected Areas. But most of all we doff our mountain berets to Duncan Poore, our synthesis writer.

We hope that the guidelines will be a catalyst for the national and sitespecific strategies that must follow if we are to have harmonious and effective management of mountain protected areas around the world.

Lawrence S. Hamilton

ViceChair (Mountains) CNPPA and East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; and Jim Thorsell, Senior Advisor (Natural Heritage). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. May, 1992


There is much comfort in high hills

and a great easing of the heart.

We look upon them, and our nature fills

with loftier images from their life apart.

They set our feet on curves of freedom bent

to snap the circles of our discontent.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young

We all know a mountain when we see it; mountain peoples all know that they are mountain peoples and are proud of it. Yet it is difficult to find a convenient definition that fits all mountains. There are, perhaps, only a few features which are common to all. They exhibit a vertical dimension which results in an attitudinal gradient and stratification of climate, soils and vegetation; and they have different aspects and exposures. All other generalizations have exceptions. Most mountains rise above the tree line, but some near the equator are obviously mountains though their summits are scrub covered; most are very steep or precipitous, but the volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii, evidently a mountain, has gentle contours; most rise to considerable altitudes, but the highest of the mountains of the Scottish Highlands, exposed to rigours of a climate on the western seaboard of Europe, is no more than 1,344 metres above sea level and has a tree line at about 500 metres.

Mountains are very special places. For many they are sacred; to most they bring spiritual refreshment; to a few they bring fear. They are the home of many different peoples in every continent. They occur in all biogeographical regions of the world, where, because of their history, isolation and great variability of habitat, they are havens of high biodiversity and rich in endemic species. They contain a great variety of climates and geological and physiographic features. They provide magnificent scenery and the qualities of remoteness and wilderness╩ a solace and a challenge to those who visit them. They are also the gathering grounds of much of the world's water. In fact, they are of untold value to those who live in them, those who visit them, and enjoy or study them, and those in the valleys and plains who count upon a dependable yield of high quality water from them.

Because of their steepness, extreme weather conditions, and the instability oftheir soils, many mountain areas are marginal for commercial agriculture, thoughmany support excellent subsistence systems of farming, grazing and agroforestry.Most, too, are remote and inaccessible, so that mountain communities are far frommarkets and the provision of services for them is expensive; most of thecommunities have also, until recently, been very selfcontained. Improvedcommunications may prove a mixed blessing; as well as bringing the benefits ofbetter services and more direct access to markets, they facilitate emigration andprovide greater opportunities for people from the lowlands to influence andexploit the resources and cultures of the mountains.

In many countries, the metropolitan centre has another conception of mountainareas. Because they frequently form international borders, they are important fordefence. The people who live there are often proud, independent, and consideredunruly. The mountains are often endowed with valuable minerals; have forests thatcan be exploited; and contain preferred sites for the impoundment of water fordomestic and industrial use, for the generation of electricity and forirrigation. Mountains can be developed for tourism, recreation and for secondhomes. In fact, they are looked upon both as an economic asset and as a liabilityor special responsibility.

Since the earliest days of the establishment of protected areas, mountain areashave been a favourite choice. This has not always been for the best reasons.Many, it is true, have been selected because of their special merits, but otherslargely because of their remoteness and the fact that they were of limited valuefor more lucrative economic activity.

Thorsell and Harrison have recently carried out an analysis of existing mountainprotected areas in the 1990 UN List of National Parks and Protected Areas(1). Outof 5310 of the more strictly protected areas (IUCN Categories IIV[2] ) whichbetween them cover 574 million hectares, protected areas in the world's mountainsconstitute eight per cent of the total number of sites and 42 per cent of thetotal area. This analysis has, for practical reasons, been confined to areas witha minimum relative relief of l500 m and greater than 10,000 ha in area. There aremany other mountain protected areas that do not meet these strict criteria. Thecoverage is therefore much more extensive than that of most other world biomes,but this does not mean that it is by any means complete or satisfactory.Moreover, it has mainly been concerned with the protection of pristinelandscapes, natural ecosystems and magnificent scenery; in most instances, theway of life of any people who live in these landscapes has not been included inthe criteria for selection.

It is evident that there are several issues which are of special importance tothe management of protected areas in mountains. Some of these are related to thechanging numbers and way of life of resident populations; some to the effect ofvisitors Rand the development of facilities on fragile soils and ecosystems, andon the customs of the residents; and some linked with the special opportunitiesand problems which may be caused by the accelerated changes of climate which arenow expected. An additional complication is the great variability of environmentwithin a small compass.

The satisfactory conservation of protected areas in mountains depends, as indeed it does in other biomes, on the effective application of a number of procedures.

A clear articulation of the purposes for which areas are to be protected and the criteria applicable to each of these purposes (e.g. preservation of biodiversity, protection of water catchments, etc.).

The identification of those areas which qualify to meet each of the defined purposes. For this a survey must be made of the relevant resources.

Legislation to provide for protection and the resources of staff and money to make the application of the law effective.

Consultation with local communities who may be affected (and perhaps also with the wider public) on matters concerning the choice of area, the objectives for its management, and the details of management. Some permanent mechanism for continuing consultation is desirable.

The precise definition of objectives of management of the protected area as a whole and of parts of it where these have special requirements. This should form the basis of a formal but flexible management plan.

The implementation of management.

The compilation of baseline information and regular monitoring thereafter to follow the effectiveness of management. Monitoring should embrace not only physical and biological aspects but also sociocultural effects.

Research specifically directed towards the solution of problems which arise in the course of management.

The periodic revision of the prescriptions and practice of management as a result of experience and conclusions derived from monitoring.

The sections which follow are largely based upon the main themes of the International Consultation on Parks, Peaks and People, themes which were selected to cover topics of wide general interest and applicability(3). Most of them address, to a greater or lesser extent, all the topics listed above. It was felt best to leave much of the resulting duplication as the importance of each of these themes is emphasised by being repeated in a different context.

The sections which follow deal in turn with:

mountain protected areas: to protect what?

general criteria for the selection of mountain protected are the preservation of mountain biodiversity and physiographic features;

transborder mountain protected areas;

the religious and cultural significance of mountains;

mountain protected areas and the cultural and economic life of the communities in them;

the owners and users of land in mountain protected areas;

the conservation of soil and water resources in mountain protected areas;

management to minimise physical and biological damage;

management for the health and safety of visitors to mountain protected areas;

issues associated with climatic change and air quality in mountains.


It is broadly true to assert that protected areas in mountain regions havehitherto been mainly chosen for their spectacular scenery, their quality ofwilderness, their wildlife, and the opportunities they offer for tourism; and the criteria used to select them have been based on these values. In many respectsthese criteria are the same as those used in other biomes. Moreover, additionalrelatively pristine mountain environments need formal protection. Many existingmountain protected areas are empty of resident people, or nearly so; but thereare others which have substantial populations, especially in the valleys. Herethe landscapes have often been shaped by long occupation, and many of theirspecial qualities lie in the contrast between the tamed and the wild. Thesepeople, over centuries, have reached a way of life which is broadly in balancewith the setting in which they live. Both they, and the pressures upon them, arenow changing fast; and the changes are in many instances harmful to theenvironment and too rapid or too violent to allow for harmonious adaptation bythe local communities.

Because most mountain protected areas have been chosen for their physical,biological and scenic qualities, the role of local people has usually been seenas one of maintaining these physical, biological and aesthetic qualities. Theirown way of life, the protection of it from unnecessary disruption, and theconservation of the resources upon which it is based, have not been seen asspecial features which should be protected and upon which areas should,therefore, be selected for protection. It is questionable whether this is anylonger a tenable attitude. To provide sufficient protection to enable the ways oflife of resident communities to develop without undue disruption should be one ofthe central aims of protected areas in mountain regions╩ consistent, of course,with broader environmental conservation. Ways of choosing the communities whichdeserve such protection should, therefore, be among the criteria for selection ofprotected areas.

If resident populations are to be included as an essential element in somemountain protected areas, this has direct consequences for the category ofprotected areas to be chosen and for the objectives of management. The IUCNCategories cover a wide range of characteristics and objectives and, by definingdifferent zones within a protected area, many of these different objectives canbe included in one area.

Perhaps the most flexible category is Category V (Protected Landscapes), becausethis in theory affords broad protection to the whole, while it can give greaterprotection to parts for specially defined purposes. The legislation and controlsand incentives; the nomenclature is less important.(4)

It is not suggested that this flexible approach must be adopted for all mountainprotected areas╩ there is clearly a place for areas which fall firmly intoCategories I or II╩ most existing mountain protected areas indeed are in CategoryII. But the whole concept of protected area, applied flexibly, does provide forgraded degrees or zones of protection within the chosen area which will enabledevelopment to take place in a controllable way and at a controllable rate to thegreatest possible advantage of both local communities and the environment.Indeed, there would be merit in extending the general principles to policiesaffecting all mountain regions, whether formally protected or not.


The selection of protected areas in the mountains should be related primarily tothe sets of values which it is desirable to protect╩ physical features,biodiversity, catchment characteristics, metaphysical aspects, human cultures andthe resources upon which they depend, and scenery. But consideration should alsobe paid to the uses which may be made of these areas based upon their protectedstatus╩ scientific or cultural studies, various forms of recreation or, simply,pure enjoyment╩ for it is the use made of such areas that will convincegovernments and the public that protection is in the national and publicinterest. Many of the difficulties of managing mountain protected areas areconcerned with establishing the correct balance between protection and use.

There should be protected areas in every mountain range in the world, selected toprotect the whole range offeatures for which mountains are valued and designed tomeet various uses. ╩


1. Within each mountain range, it should be the responsibility of the governments which contain parts of it, to ensure that protected areas are set up which adequately include the biological, physical, and cultural variation within their boundaries.


Protected areas in the mountains have a particularly important contribution to make to the preservation of world's biodiversity (species, ecosystems and the range of variation within species) and of its many different geological and physiographic features.

Mountain areas are significant reservoirs of biodiversity, containing rich assemblages of species (and their genotypes) and of ecosystems. There are a number of reasons for this richness, among them the following:

The isolated nature of many mountain ranges has led to the development of a high degree of local endemism.

Mountains contain many different rocks, parent material and soils.

Mountains are dynamic and unstable; thus many different succesional stages of vegetation are present.

Because of the small scale pattern of variability in physical conditions╩ temperature, radiation, moisture and wind exposure, snow cover╩ many different communities occur in a small compass.

Because mountains are often remote, their ecosystems have been less modified by human action than those in more accessible areas.

The maintenance of biodiversity transcends the boundaries of protected areas. Many species within protected areas depend on resources outside them, and the existence of the protected area likewise affects areas outside.

Both geological and physiographical features are also richly represented in mountain areas different rock types, folding, volcanism, degrees of metamorphism, glacial features, etc. These should be preserved in their own right.

The steep environmental gradients and close proximity of different attitudinal zones have in the past allowed the migration of biota in response to climatic change. Protected areas in mountains have therefore a particular importance for the conservation of biodiversity in view of the high probability of future climatic changes involving temperature or changes in air quality.

Peoples living in the mountains have developed many cultivars which are well adapted to local conditions and have special knowledge of the uses of local plants and animals in food and medicine. It is important that the cultivars should be preserved and that the knowledge possessed by local people should not be lost.

The preservation of the full range of biodiversity and of physical features is anessential element in the selection of mountain protected areas. As an integralpart of planning, provision should be made for the protection of large examplesof natural ecosystems and of populations of plant and animal species, togetherwith sites illustrating the principal geological and physiographic features andthe processes at work in the landscape. These should be supplemented by theprotection of a larger number of small areas representing the full local varietyof species and ecosystems, including intraspecific genotypic variation.


2. Areas should be selected for protection, and established as protected areas,which will, as far as possible, ensure the maintenance of all genotypes, species,and communities (ecosystems). They should encompass the full range of variationof altitude, aspect and rock type and be large enough to ensure long termviability.

3. The involvement of local people in the planning, and management of areasprotected for their biological diversity is essential for their long termsecurity, as so much of this depends upon suitable land use practices andrestraint in hunting or gathering. Those people who are most directly affected bythe establishment of mountain protected areas should be the first to share intheir economic benefits and returns.

4. One focus for the conservation of biodiversity can be the knowledge of theindigenous mountain people, who should be given a vested interest in safeguardingbiodiversity and keeping alive traditional knowledge╩ perhaps through theregistration of intellectual property rights.

5. The size and characteristics of the areas protected in mountains should be related to the needs of the plant and animal communities that they are intended to protect. In the case of large reserves, areas should be chosen to include as much internal variation as possible (aspect, altitude, soils, snow cover, etc.)

6. Wherever possible areas set aside to safeguard samples of natural ecosystemsshould be surrounded by buffer zones, taking advantage of physiographic and othernatural protective features. These should be maintained under natural vegetationbut can be used for any form of economic land use which does not interfere withthe integrity of the protected area.

7. The objectives of management for such mountain protected areas should becarefully defined and adhered to. They should include maintaining part of thearea completely undisturbed as a standard for comparison; but, in the remainder,use for scientific study, education and recreation should be encouraged, providedthat these uses do not conflict with the primary purpose of protection.

8. Consideration must be given to the management of biological diversity in eachprotected area, and the course of management should be monitored to assesswhether the original objectives were reasonable and the management has beensuccessful.

9. The general policy in protected areas should be to favour natural processes;care should be taken to avoid interfering with them by introducing any majorphysical disturbances. Artificial fires should only be started, or natural firesput out, if there are good reasons for doing so.

10. There should be no introduction of alien species and any recently introducedspecies should be eliminated as soon as possible. If any alien species arealready well established, their effects on biodiversity should be assessed, anderadication or control concentrated on those whose effects are significant or onareas of particular importance for their biodiversity or ecologicalcharacteristics.

11. If habitat preservation and appropriate management are not possible, genotypes and species should be preserved by cultivation or captive breeding. These methods should have the ultimate aim of reintroduction after the habitat has been restored. There should be firm linkages with botanical and zoological gardens which are experienced in the maintenance of well documented collections of indigenous mountain species.

The conservation of biodiversity in a country should, of course, be treated as a comprehensive whole. In planning the overall development of any mountain area, provision should be made for the migration of animals and dispersal of plants between protected areas. The maintenance of biodiversity transcends the boundaries of any protected area; many species within it depend upon resources outside, and, conversely, the existence of a protected area has effects outside it.

12. When the land surrounding mountain protected areas becomes intensively used,these are left as "islands" and are very vulnerable to such external changes asfluctuations in climate. The danger of losing species can be lessened by makingreserves larger and more varied, crossing a number of attitudinal belts, or byregulating land use in the areas between reserves so that migration is possiblein natural corridors.

13. The management of lands within protected landscapes (Category V) which areused by local communities (for cultivation, grazing, collection of fuelwood,hunting, etc.) should be carried out in such a way that reasonable populations ofwild plants and animals are maintained in them.

The selection and continued management of areas for the preservation of biodiversity can only be effective if supported by adequate data on the distribution and status of species and ecosystems, on changes in these, and on the social and economic conditions of the people resident in protected areas. Such work is essential in order to identify gaps in coverage, new management problems and opportunities for cooperative management.

14. International, national, and local databanks should be assembled and analysedin order to identify gaps, problems, and possibilities for cooperation. Thesedatabanks should include biological, physical, ecological, and socioeconomicinventories. Scientific effort should be concentrated first on those areas ofsurvey, monitoring and management which are critical for protection.

15. Threats to biodiversity should be identified in each protected area andresearch that addresses these threats should be designed and implemented. Specialattention should be directed to the ecology of species that have a key role inthe structure and function of ecosystems.

16. The palaeoecology of protected areas should be investigated in order to determine the likely direction of future change and to identify any management action that may prove necessary.

17. Educational programmes should be developed to inform local people, thegeneral population and decision makers of the importance of biodiversity. Thereshould be crossfertilisation of ideas╩ scientists in communication with decisionmakers, interpreters with the public, and managers with local people. Museums andinterpretation centres often provide an effective focus. These should share thestory between different parks in a region and should link highlands and lowlands.


Mountain ranges have often been chosen to form the boundaries between countriesor other large administrative entities. At the same time, the ecological valuesof mountains have also provided opportunities for the establishment of parks andother protected areas. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are now 25transfrontier mountain parks established throughout the world by 33 countries(Thorsell and Harrison, op. cit.)

It is obvious that it is advantageous to manage such parks jointly by crossbordercooperation. The conservation benefits to be derived from border parks arereinforced by such cooperative agreements, for these also reflect the commitmentof the governments concerned, functional relationships between their agencies anda degree of cultural sensitivity.

Cooperative arrangements for the management of crossborder protected areas is essential to ensure the conservation of the continuum of natural and cultural heritage that transcends administrative boundaries.

18. Each country or state should already have, or should develop, an inventory ofmountain protected areas on its borders which are matched in a neighbouringcountry or state. This inventory should give guidance on the circumstances wherecooperative management practices would be advantageous. Shared concerns mightcoyer, fore example: the migration paths of species; water catchment protection;the management of pest species; the management of recreation; search and rescue;and nomadic human populations who regularly cross frontiers.

19. Where the boundaries of contiguous protected areas do not match, or do not include, all key physical and biological elements, boundary adjustments should be considered.

In establishing cooperative management agreements, a fundamental principle is respect for the sovereignty of the individual countries or states in achieving mutually beneficial endeavours. Cooperative agreements now in use in several countries transcend politics and are designed so that they are voluntary and may be terminated by either party at will.

20. Transfrontier management in mountain protected areas should receive the endorsement of the highest authority in the land.

21. As soon as shared mountain border parks are recognised as areas of special importance by governments, a cooperative management agreement should be prepared. Elements of such an agreement should include:

enhanced conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the transborder mountain protected areas;

respect for the sovereignty of the individual governments involved;

enhancement of cooperative research and the development of comparable methodologies; and

cooperation which is equitable, mutually beneficial and responsible.

22. The commitment to joint management may be achieved by: initial discussions between the appropriate authorities; a brief agreement on protocol (34 pages) and a more detailed, comprehensive operational statement.

23. The cooperative management agreement should identify: the management groups responsible for the agreement and their key objectives; the principles governing the allocation of resources; and arrangements for monitoring performance.

Cooperative management will be effective where there is active and sustained management on the ground which leads to an improvement in the conservation status of the natural and cultural heritage.

24. Once the administrative group responsible for implementing the cooperative management agreement has been established, one of its first tasks is to prepare a work plan. This could include:

joint consultation by the respective agencies on planning for the protected area;

transborder law enforcement (including the potential for cooperatively developed legal agreements to assist in antipoaching);

joint arrangements for water catchment management, pest species control, search and rescue, fire management, wildlife disease prevention, species management and other operational matters.

25. There should be joint consideration of the provision of facilities and information to visitors, in public education programmes and in marketing.

26. Scientific research and monitoring of mountain protected areas are essential prerequisites for the improved management of those protected areas.

27. The effectiveness of conservation can be increased by making cooperative arrangements for research and by the sharing of research skills, facilities and data.

28. Public support for the concept of transborder mountain protected areas can be fostered by providing information to the public and by the appropriate involvement of politicians, advisory groups, local authorities, and those with an economic interest in the areas in question.

The international cooperation evidenced by the setting up of transborder mountain protected areas should be extended, in appropriate instances, by associating these with the World Heritage Convention and the Biosphere Reserve Programme.

29. Countries are encouraged to propose suitable mountain protected areas for nomination to the World Heritage List or as Biosphere Reserves and, especially, to consider joint nominations with other countries.


Many mountains have a metaphysical significance which involves sacredness, fear,ceremony and mystique. This already gives them some degree of protection. Themanagers, planners and interpreters of mountain protected areas should takeaccount of the opportunities and problems presented by this special spiritual andcultural aura.

Many areas can be chosen as illustrations:

From two to four per cent of the Yunnan prefecture of Xishuanbanna in China liesin "holy hills" where dwell the spirits of ancestors of the Dai people, and thesemountain forests are largely intact because of the reverence in which they areheld.

Part of the central range of mountains of Venezuela is "la Sorte de Maria Lionza"or the sacred place of the Queen Maria Lionza, goddess of nature, who willenhance the welfare of the people provided that they do not enter the "Sorte", inwhich case they will first become lost and later die. (It was easy to afford thisprotected area status.)

Highland dwellers in Tibet dispose of dead bodies by feeding the body to vulturesin a "sky burial" at special sites. If this were not done, cremation wouldrequire large amounts of fuel resulting either in depletion of scarce resourcesof wood or in the use of fragile cushion plants dug from the steep slopes.

The volcanic fire of Tongariro (New Zealand) was lit by the gods to warm Ngatoroirangi, ancestor of the present day Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe. The mountain in turn was itself regarded as an ancestor. Recognition of these special values has limited the expansion of facilities on the upper mountain slopes of the park.

Tarns like Suraj Khundin the Kumaon Himalaya and many of the Bhadeli Guars (the highest alpine pastures) are regarded as sacred gardens of the gods; shepherds believe that trespassing in these holy places would have dire consequences to them, and hence never graze their sheep in these areas.

Gauri Shanker peak in Nepal depicts the lord Shankar and his consort Gauri inHindu religion; this peak is sacred and no mountaineering is permitted. This hasresulted in a mountain and adjoining valleys which are clean and free of refuse.

In Hawaii, the volcano goddess Pele, creator and destroyer by her lava flows, isboth feared and loved. Now, within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, fear of Pele'sbad luck reduces the removal of lava for souvenirs and the desecration of naturalor cultural sites.

"The Sacred Valley" between Cuzco and Ollantai Tambo in Peru was once devoted tothe crops used to feed the Inca warriors, while the cliffs were used for burialcrypts for those of high rank in the Inca king's court. The place gave, and stillgives, some protection to the soils, wild flora, and Andean crops.In addition, there is an aura of spirituality in many mountain physical features╩rocks, caves, summits, flora, springs, and celestial conditions.

This special significance provides an opportunity for some form of protected areadesignation including that of protected landscape or biosphere reserve, takingadvantage of the protection already afforded by these values. In such instances,the paramount responsibility should be to protect and respect the "spirit ofplace". This may require special management measures.

The people whose spiritual and cultural values are at stake must have completeconfidence in those responsible for stewardship of the protected area. This senseof trust must be carefully fostered and maintained. Those responsible formanagement should seek guidance from the people who hold the belief system beforeacting.

The landscapes in areas of cultural and spiritual significance have usually evolved through long interaction between people and nature. Because any alteration of the landscape may change the "spirit of place", great care should be taken to preserve the authentic landscape setting.

Areas of cultural and spiritual significance are much more complex than otherprotected areas, because their qualities are not only physical and biological,but also include the metaphysical. As their management requires skills in dealingnot only with the natural environment but also with the cultural and spiritualaspects of the area, there is a strong case for selecting management staffprimarily from the local people and giving them the necessary training to dealwith the usual aspects of management.

Where mountain areas are of special religious and cultural significance, they should be included in protected areas wherever possible, and precedence in protection and management should be given to the sacred or ceremonial values. Management should be based on full consultation and collaboration with the people to whom the area is sacred, and a proportion of the benefit Is of any visitor income should return to them.

30. Mountain managers should consult with the people of the place and establish consultative mechanisms with them to ensure a cooperative approach to handling the opportunities and possible conflicts resulting from the presence of sacred sites in mountain protected areas. Management plans should be developed ire collaboration with local people.

Many of these sacred areas are also places of pilgrimage. Everything must be done to maintain their sacred character and to avoid detracting from the spiritual experience of those on pilgrimage to them.

31. Places of cultural and spiritual significance, especially sites of pilgrimage, usually require development of some infrastructure. Any new structures must be carefully designed to integrate harmoniously with the natural and cultural environment.

32. These places attract many users, often including tour operators who may makeprofits from visitors. Arrangements should be made to ensure chat a reasonableproportion of the profits return to the local population through local spendingor through investment in, for example, health and education.

33. Special measures may be needed at sites of pilgrimage to reconcile the numberof visitors with the quality of their experience and to provide for sightseeingby tourists without upsetting She pilgrims.

34. Where there are great numbers of pilgrims, as, for example, at Kedarnath in the Indian Himalaya, the carrying capacity of the site should be assessed in terms of possible pollution, site deterioration and overloading of existing facilities. An attempt should be made to predict future numbers, in order chat adequate, environmentallysound facilities may be provided in good time.

35. If There is a danger of overuse, it may be necessary to design an equitable system to limit access, such as areas in which visitors are strictly controlled or from which tourists are excluded.

36. Sites of metaphysical importance are often also of great significance forTheir natural features, both physical and biological. Excessive use (for example,of trails or ceremonial plants) often leads to damage to physical or biologicalfeatures. The same measures should be applied in sacred places as are recommendedfor the conservation of nature in other protected areas (see Sections IV and X).

37. To enhance the natural values and to avoid conflicts with cultural values, itmay be necessary to establish sets of both ethical and practical rules to befollowed equally by users and managers. Protected area managers and the tourismindustry should, Therefore, develop culturally sensitive codes of conduct forvisitors and make them available through publications and display boards.

Mountains with cultural and spiritual significance are often the roots ofindigenous cultures and contain monuments and artefacts of great importance.While there is a legitimate desire among scholars to study these, there should bean absolute prohibition on the unauthorized disturbance of sites, the removal ofartefacts or any vandalism.

38. There should on no account be any desecration of sites through destruction orunauthorised removal of sacred artefacts. Regulations should be promulgated andenforced, and codes of behaviour drawn up, governing all research. These wouldclearly define the general prohibition on the disturbance of artefacts and thespecial conditions under which licences might be granted for the collection ofspecimens.

39. Stringent conditions should also govern the trading and taking as souvenirsof artefacts or scientific specimens. The managers of mountain parks should keepan inventory of archaeological, historical and sacred objects and provideadequate control to ensure that they are not removed, damaged or defaced.

40. Any display and promotional sales of souvenirs depicting sacred qualities of the site should be done with discretion and sensitivity. The interpretation of sacred sites must be particularly sensitive. For many of the world's people, religions are based on nature gods and goddesses that provide an overriding system of order╩ a cosmos╩ which includes all environments from mountains to the seas: "spirituality" is considered to be inherent in all natural things. Such an approach may provide a broad framework in which may fit the specifics of particular sites.

41. Interpretive policies and programmes should be designed to presentmetaphysical and cultural values in mountain protected areas in a manner thatrespects local beliefs, and also informs visitors by encouraging them to act in asensitive manner towards the beliefs of others.

42. Interpretation in such sites should be carried out by custodians who are repositories of the local values and beliefs.

43. Myth must be interpreted with great care to avoid the extremes either of glorification or belittlement.


Many present or proposed protected areas in the mountains contain people, few insome, many in others. The communities range from selfsufficient tribal peopleswith a subsistence economy, through those that are to some extent reliant onresources from outside, to groups which are more or less fully integrated intothe market economy and the broader national society.

Very few, if any, of these communities are not influenced to some extent by theworld outside and this influence is bound to increase, through improved accessand communications, health care, education, new technology, visitors fromoutside, and the return of local people who have seen other places. The issue is,rather, how should they change╩ in what ways and how fast. The improvedcommunications which are an essential element of development can in time lead tooutmigration (especially of the young) and a break down of the social fabric.Mountain protected areas can provide a legal and administrative framework withinwhich communities may develop in an appropriate and controlled manner, whilemaintaining essential elements of their special cultures.

At the same time, mountain protected areas can provide a framework for the enjoyment of nature and landscape which, in many countries, is an important factor in attracting public and government

Mountain protected areas which contain people may aim to protect not only naturalfeatures but also the essential elements of the cultural landscape,archaeological and historical monuments and vernacular buildings. It shouldprovide a framework in which this can be done by encouraging sympathetic economicdevelopment which preserves the cultural identity of the resident communitiesliving in or near the protected area.

44. Protected areas in the mountains should be planned and managed in accordancewith the above principles and with full participation by local communities.

45. There should be a full recognition of the right of any mountain community to define its own identity and cultural values. The community should be assisted in its efforts to maintain cultural practices which are threatened by migration, tourism, resource exploitation and any culturally insensitive development.

46. The community should, equally, be provided with assistance in social and economic development within the framework of the overall objectives of the protected area. The management of the protected area should play an active part in supporting local development.

47. Communities should be assisted in their attempts to cope with any disruptionto their culture and identities originating from outside influences. This may bedone by providing support in ways that are consistent with the above principles.

Grazing is allowed in a portion of the Lanin National Park and Reserve, Argentina.

48. Policies and programmes should be developed for mountain tourism which encourage mutual understanding, respect and cultural sensitivity between mountain people and their guests, and which recognise the rights of local communities to have a voice in regulating the scale and nature of tourism in their homelands.

49. There should be an analysis of potential harm that might be caused to the culture or economy by the establishment of the protected area, and measures should be included in the management plan to mitigate these.

50. There is need for a mechanism whereby local communities continue to be involved in both planning and management.

51. The management plan for any mountain protected area should include (in addition to the normal conservation component) the following:

provision for a comanagement structure which enables the representation of the community in decisionmaking bodies;

a mechanism for monitoring, review and updating;

a mechanism for continuing participation of the community in this process;

a formal mechanism for integrating policy coordination and decisionmaking;

a plan for the protection of all elements of the local culture, its documentation and appropriate interpretation;

a mechanism for discussion and exchange of information between the protected area staff and the community on any matters affecting either of them, including cultural changes, the effects of tourism and ways to incorporate traditional knowledge in the management of the protected area; and

a plan which provides for appropriate benefits to the community from the establishment of the protected area(5);

a plan for financing and support.


Distributed electronically by the Mountain Forum with permission from the World Conservation Union. Commercial use of this document is not permitted. Email: mfmod@mtnforum.org. World Wide Web: http://www.mtnforum.org

****************************************************************** Browsing Classification: Policy and Law:Mountain Policy Recommendations:Global:IUCN People, Institutions, and the Environment:Parks and Protected Areas

Citation: Poore, Duncan. 1992. Guidelines for Mountain Protected Areas. IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Switzerland and United Kingdom. 56 pp

The Mountain Forum / mfsupport@mtnforum.org / revised September 1997

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