Launched in 2003 by the United Nations, International Mountain Day takes place annually on 11th December, to raise awareness about how essential mountains are to life, our health and biodiversity.
This year's theme, Restoring Mountain Ecosystems, promotes the role the mountains play in all our lives, whether we live near one or not. For example, half the world's fresh water supplies come from our mountains. The call is for more investment in our mountains, and promotion of ways to take better care of them, such as reducing deforestation.
These natural treasures are under threat from climate change, overexploitation, and contamination (micro plastics have been found up Mount Everest) - working together, we can make a difference.
How climate change can impact mountains
Did you know that 80% of the key foods we rely on around the world, such as maize, potatoes, barley, tomatoes and apples originated in the mountains? This is why they are key sites when it comes to protecting biodiversity.
Mountains are home to 15% of the world's population whilst hosting half of the world's biodiversity hotspots (areas that contain high levels of species diversity). As the climate changes, glaciers begin to melt, causing erosion to the rock and soil.
What mountains offer to humans and nature
Mountains offer clean, fresh air which helps with deeper and healthier breathing, with the extensive landscape easing stress and reducing anxiety levels. Serving as nature's playground for hiking and climbing, mountains offer significant physical health benefits.
But most importantly, mountains are a home to nature. The quickly changing mountain environments makes it hard for nature and animals to adjust to new weather conditions. The things mountains do for nature are really important to life.
Make your voice heard
There are so many ways we can do better for our mountains, check out the UN website for more info: https://www.un.org/en/observances/mountain-day
You can help raise awareness by using the International Mountain Day social media kit for resources to help share why mountains matter. If possible, consider organising a group walk to celebrate our mountains and surrounding areas. Locally, we have 5 mountain peaks in Sussex:
1: Hollingbury Hill Fort (185m)
2: Ditchling Beacon (248m)
3: Wolstonbury Hill (204m)
4: Newtimber Hill (203m)
5: Devils Dyke (203m)
These are great places to explore for your mental and physical wellbeing; supporting healthier lives.