THE INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAINEERING
AND CLIMBING FEDERATION


dokument  iz 2002. godine o direktivi zaštite
životne sredine Medjunarodne unije za planinarstvo (UIAA) 


„The UIAA believes that mountaineers, as well as many other people and organisations,
should be very concerned about the future of the mountain environment...“

„The freedom to climb is part of the wider need for people…“


Introduction

In 1997 the General Assembly of the UIAA approved the text of the UIAA's 'Environmental Objectives and Guidelines'. These have stood the test of time and remain the framework by which the UIAA federations operate when supporting mountaineering activities. The year 2002, International Year of the Mountains, has now provided an opportunity to distribute this document to a wider audience, to reach all who enjoy
being in mountains and with mountain people.

Members of the UIAA's Mountain Protection Commission as well as
other UIAA colleagues, past and present, have contributed to the preparation of this material and we hope all mountaineers will have regard to the advice and take action to help the mountain environment. If mountaineers adopt the highest standards of environmental care they will protect the mountain environment, bring benefit to mountain people and help to secure the freedom to practice mountaineering in years to come. Politicians, policy makers, local communities and commercial interests all influence what happens to the mountains and mountaineers must engage in dialogue with the different interests. By promoting these objectives and guidelines we can demonstrate a responsible attitude towards our own activities and stake a genuine claim to join with others in the decisions which decide the future of the world's mountains. There is no better time to start than in IYM 2002.

Ian McNaught-Davis
President UIAA

Worldwide significance of mountains

“Mountains are an important source of water, energy and biological diversity. Furthermore, they are a source of such key resources as minerals, forest products and agricultural pro-ducts, and of recreation. As a major ecosystem representing the complex and inter-related ecology of our planet, mountain environments are essential to the survival of the global ecosystem.” (Agenda 21, Chapter 13)

It’s only since the legendary Rio’92 conference on sustainable development,
that mountains are recognized as important areas for the future of our planet and its civilisations, formulated in the Chapter 13 of the Agenda 21.

The quotation above formulates in the very shortest and clearest way
what makes mountain areas so important. To give an illustrating example: mountain areas over 1000 m make up 27% of land surface, but provide more than 50% of all the freshwater resources.

On the other hand, mountain areas are fragile and sensitive ecosystems.
Reactions to environmental changes are quick, often show dramatic consequences and need a long time to recover. One of the best examples is climate change. The reaction of alpinotype glaciers and soils in Europe an Asia to the recent warming is dramatic, and the possible consequences – e.g. instability of former stable permafrost slopes, outbursts of glacial lakes – are frightening, and will produce very high costs for the nations concerned. Not to mention the dramatic change in landscape, which affects both tourism and mountaineering. Many of the classical climbs of
the Alps have strongly deteriorated, some have become impossible to climb at all – wonderful white ice flanks transformed into ugly and dangerous rock slopes…

This makes the link from global environmental aspects to ourselves, our
behaviour, be it in our private, professional, or mountaineering activities.

UIAA Mountain Protection Commission, 2002


Mountaineering and the environment

Mountaineering generally has a low local environmental impact. Of course this is only true if mountaineers "take only pictures and leave nothing but footprints", as the American wilderness philosopher John Muir stated as a motto for the Sierra Club founded in 1892.

Direct local ecological impact of mountaineering activities can get substantial, when sensitive areas are used by a large number of people. This is a field of growing concern mainly in Europe (e.g. at climbing cliffs) but also in certain areas of the world mountains, because of the growing number of mountain related outdoor sports using sensitive areas and showing tendencies to commercialisation and mass sports. The strategy of the UIAA is to pre-empt legislative prohibition through self-regulation and impact-minimisation, in collaboration with conservation bodies.

Indirect ecological consequences of mountaineering can be more dramatic. Examples are the overuse of local firewood by porters of large expedition and trekking groups, or the high energy consumption (and greenhouse gas production) caused by the generally large distances travelled by mountaineers and climbers in cars and planes.

This is why the UIAA has adopted these Environmental Guidelines.

Most of the UIAA member's interests go further than just climbing and mountaineering, and mountaineering clubs traditionally show an interest and an active commitment to mountain areas. This results in manifold positive interactions with local communities and benefits for the sustainable development of mountain areas, and the awareness of negative effects and projects for their mitigation, particularly on ecological issues, are highly developed.

This commitment needs constant nurturing and strengthening. Considering the hedonistic and individualistic developments in western society, and the tendencies towards more competitiveness and commercialisation in mountaineering, this will not be an easy task for the future.

Mountaineers should be good examples in environmentally sensitive behaviour and important partners in helping the mountain areas of the world find their way of sustainable development in the 21st century.

UIAA Mountain Protection Commission, 2002


The UIAA Mountain Protection Commission

Mission statement: "With our work we want to contribute to maintain mountains wild and free
for the enjoyment of mountaineers and for all humankind, as well as for nature itself."

Environmental issues were a main concern of the UIAA since its creation in 1932. After some pre-War activities, the “Mountain Protection Commission” was founded in 1969. It helped the UIAA Member Associations in their efforts against destructive projects in their respective countries. It produced diverse recommendations for ‘good mountaineering practice’ and position papers with regard to sustainable development of mountain regions, the most renowned of them being the “Kathmandu Declaration” from 1982. These resolutions have been synthesized in the environmental Guidelines presented here.

In the last decade the MPC was also involved in the UIAA efforts towards
the preservation of access freedom to mountaineering and climbing sites. In 1999 a specific UIAA ‘Access and Conservation Commission’ A&CC was created in which MPC is represented.

General objectives of the MPC are to protect mountain areas of the
world as one of the last natural, unspoilt an freedom spaces on Earth, by

• preventing irreversible impacts in mountain ecosystems,
• Promoting environmental behaviour and education amongst mountaineers an people visiting mountains (tourists)
• Developing demonstrative actions to restore and to protect nature in mountains.

MPC’s prime fields of concern and action are

• Impacts of mountaineering and climbing to environment
• Codes of conduct for UIAA and its member associations
• Assistance to UIAA bodies and member organisation for environmental and conservation subjects
• Formulation of UIAA positions, in accordance with UIAA Board/ Council, on local and regional specific problems related to mountain protection
• Link with international conservation organisations and networks
• General environmental problems in mountain regions


UIAA ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND GUIDELINES

Adopted at the UIAA General Assembly,

4 October 1997 in Kranjska Gora, Slovenija

1. This policy statement provides an outline of the main environmental issues that concern mountaineers. It recognizes that the term "mountaineering", as practiced by UIAA member federations, includes all aspects of the following activities: climbing, hiking, trekking and ski touring.

2. It considers both the effects of mountaineering on the environment and also the role that UIAA hopes mountaineers will play in helping to secure a sustainable future for the mountain environment.

3. These objectives and guidelines provide the framework, which member federations follow when supporting mountaineering activities. They will help member federations to ensure that mountaineering activities are sensitive to environmental needs and will assist efforts to protect cliff and mountain areas from adverse environmental impacts, from whatever source. They are based on international guidance on conservation and
sports activity and UIAA policy statements and reports. These are listed in the Annex.

VALUES
4. Central to the UIAA's work is the belief that the freedom to practice mountaineering, from the high, remote mountain peaks to the lowlands and coastal cliffs, is of great value to many of the world's citizens. The freedom to climb is part of the wider need for people to have access to land and water for the appreciation of nature and scenery, as recognised by the World Conservation Congress in 1996. It also encompasses the need for adventure, physical exercise and the mental and social dimensions of the sport of mountaineering. Promoting the recognition of these values amongst the wider community is an important starting point for achieving the wider UIAA environmental objectives.

5. The UIAA recognises the enormous value of mountain areas as reservoirs of biological diversity; as places of great spiritual and historic interest; as places with spectacular natural phenomena associated with climate and geology, and as the location of some of the world's most beautiful and peaceful landscapes. These range
from places that are remote, wild and natural to places of inhabitation, often with much modified landscapes of great cultural value. The UIAA recognises that such areas often contain fragile, easily damaged ecosystems and local lifestyles, which are sensitive to external intrusion.

6. The UIAA recognises that mountains are often the source of products essential to humankind as a whole. Of these, the supplies of pure water in the streams and rivers that drain from the mountain ranges are of supreme importance. Similarly the UIAA recognises the use of mountain areas as the source of forest and agricultural products, of minerals and energy supplies. The UIAA emphasises, however, the need to extract these products in ways, which do not compromise the environmental quality of mountain areas.

7. The UIAA welcomes the role of mountain tourism in supporting local economies, including the production of locally marketed products, and recognises the need to maintain local land management skills. The UIAA is also concerned to ensure that the activities of mountaineers help to sustain local communities in ways, which are beneficial to mountain people as a whole and are acceptable to the mountaineering community.

IMPACTS
8. The UIAA believes that mountaineers, as well as many other people and organisations, should be very concerned about the future of the mountain environment. The following types of impact threaten the integrity of mountain ecosystems and mountain communities and as such threaten the future enjoyment and participation in mountaineering.

9. The loss of biodiversity due to forest destruction, overgrazing or excessive burning. Such impacts can have profound effects on the natural vegetation cover, richness of animal species and the loss of soil and vegetation through erosion. The wild, unspoiled character of mountain areas is diminished.

10. Massive or intrusive changes to the landscape. Large scale mineral workings, hydroelectric or water supply schemes, roads, ways, pylons and telecommunications structures, ski slope facilities and buildings, especially those associated with some tourism developments and industries, can give cause for particular concern.

11. Climate change and pollution, through the contamination of air or water and the intrusive noise of motor vehicles and aircraft. There are virtually no mountain areas in the world where the signs of pollution are absent and the whole world is affected by the processes of climate change. Mountaineers need to consider to what extent their own activities are contributing to pollution problems and how, in relation to wider society, mountaineers can use their influence to make the world a less polluted place.

12. The overuse of sensitive areas. Excessive numbers of visitors, including mountaineers, is leading to the degradation of some mountain environments through the overuse of sensitive areas or the lack of adequate standards of mountaineering conduct. Such damage is occurring to relatively small areas in many mountain ranges and is less significant than some of the other factors, which affect mountain environments as a whole and are mentioned above. Such overuse, is however, seen to be highly significant where it impacts on some of the world's most famous locations, such as the base camps around the highest mountains, along the most popular trails used by mountaineers, trekkers and pilgrims, or at cliffs and crags beloved by climbers, birdwatchers and botanists. It is essential that trekking organisations, mountaineering expeditions and climbers recognise these concerns and adopt best practice techniques.

INTEGRATION
13. The UIAA believes that mountaineers can best meet their environmental responsibilities, as well as helping to safeguard mountain land and local communities, through a process of integration. These are the key requirements:
13.1 Persuading decision makers that mountains and mountain people are important and responsible mountaineering is an activity is deserving of the highest levels of support.
13.2 Widening support for the concept that freedom of access, exercised with responsibility, is an integral element of mountaineering, often associated with strenuous physical and mental endeavour, risk and adventure and a relative absence of rules and regulations.
13.3 Recognising that travel through beautiful places is an essential element in many mountaineering experiences and mountaineers should endeavour to keep those places beautiful.
13.4 Developing and promoting mountaineering techniques that have a minimum impact on the environment, including travel and transport arrangements which minimise pollution and the depletion of fossil fuels and the use of recyclable materials.
13.5 Supporting arrangements, which help to protect mountain areas and improve the well-being and prosperity of local communities, on the assumption that such arrangements have been agreed with mountaineering interests through a process of prior consultation and negotiation, e.g.:
13.5.1 Supporting the establishment of protected areas, such as national parks and reserves, to safeguard the finest mountain wildlife and scenery, so long as these are effectively managed, well integrated with local community needs and sensitive to mountaineering requirements.
13.5.2 Supporting, where necessary, regulatory arrangements, which are acceptable to mountaineering interests and capable of being, applied equitably, preferably under voluntary agreement arrangements.
13.5.3 Supporting fair and equitable measures which help mountaineers to contribute directly to the economic prosperity and environmental well being of local communities, through the purchase of goods or
services or through reasonable taxation or fee arrangements.
13.6 Supporting educational work, which develops a greater understanding of the character and use of mountain environments. Encouragement will, in particular, be given to the incorporation of aspects of environmental education into the training programmes for mountaineering instructors and guides.
13.7 Promoting consultation arrangements between mountaineering federations and organisations representing citizen groups, governments and international organisations on the development of land use, energy and transport policies which affect mountain areas.
13.8 Developing partnerships between mountaineering organisations and other organisations with an interest in protecting the mountain environment, supporting its wise use and maintaining greatest possible freedom of access.

14. These key requirements define the main scope of UIAA's environmental policy and provide a basis for member federations to promote mountaineering activities, which take account of the main environmental considerations.

ANNEX

The following documents form the base of the UIAA environmental objectives and guidelines. All documents are present in full text on the homepage of the UIAA (www.uiaa.ch)

International guidance

• Resolution on public access to land and water, supported by the UIAA and passed by the World Conservation Congress of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Montreal, Canada, 1996
(In this resolution the IUCN recognizes the free access to nature as important for the formation of environmental awareness. The IUCN intends a better recognition of access to nature in its projects. Further documents on the issue: In 1998, IUCN and UIAA discussed access to climbing crags in a Seminar in Barcelona (Spain) and published common guidelines on “access and conservation strategies for climbing areas”.)

• Declaration on Sports and Environment issued by the International Olympic Committee, 1996
(The IOC introduces environment and sustainable development as "third dimension of the olympic movement" and forms a commission on sport and environment. In 1999 the IOC adopts an adapted agenda 21 (of Rio 1992) ...)

... Most recent declaration: “2001 Nagano Declaration on Sport, Environment and Sustainable Development”


Policy statements and reports approved by or noted at UIAA General Assemblies

Kathmandu Declaration (1982)

In the Kathmandu declaration the UIAA formulates the importance of protecting the environment of the worlds mountains (flora, fauna, culture). UIAA proposes to promote education, to minimize waste and to engage in environmental politics. The here presented UIAA environmental objectives and guidelines are specifications of this Kathmandu declaration.

Matsumoto Mountain Protection Report (1992)
Matsumoto Mountain Protection report defines the activities of the UIAA mountain protection commission relating to the “target program to reduce trash” from the same year.

Target program to reduce trash (1992)
The "target program for the reduction of trash" was adopted 1992 in Geneva. Aim of the program is the sensibilisation of all involved in expeditions and mountaineering (authorities, agencies, guides and group members) for a minimization of the environmental impact by unnecessary waste production, as well as for an adequate disposal of unavoidable wastes.

Resolution on touristic flights in mountain areas (1994)
The resolution, which was adopted 1994 in Istanbul, describes the attitude of the UIAA in relation to touristic flights in the high mountains. From ethical and ecological reasons (e.g. “noise pollution”) touristic flights in the mountains are to be minimized. Landing and picking up persons for recreational or commercial purposes should be excluded.

Guidelines for ski alpinism competitions (1994)

This regulation contains environmental aspects for route planning at outdoor competitions. Newer regulations (ICC Rules and regularization 2001) deal only with indoor matches, since outdoor competitions are hardly organised anymore.

Policy on competition climbing (1995)
The guidelines for ski alpinism competitions require careful treatment of the competition area by organisers, be it on the part of the participants or on the part of the spectators. Damage and contamination of nature due to the competitions must be minimized. The guidelines were revised in 1998 (Berne 1998)

Minutes of Cape Town Conference on “Access and Conservation Policy" (1995)
The symposium following the conference in Cape Town dealt with the problems of free access and the role of mountaineers for a sustainable use of mountain and climbing areas. Solutions and recommendations to the UIAA member federations were discussed. This formed the basis for the above mentioned “IUCN resolution on public access to land and water” of 1996

UIAA Expeditions Code of Ethics (1987)
The code concretises the Kathmandu declaration for expeditions. It gives guidelines for the behaviour of the members, during and after an expedition, not only regarding the environment. Most important points:
Follow the lines of the Kathmandu declaration, respect the laws and traditions of the host country, avoid excess equipment, no doping, objective reports, solidarity, leave the mountain clean.


Spring Gentian: "The UIAA recognises the enormous value of mountain areas as reservoirs of biological diversity…"

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