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Mountain ecosystems vital to economy

Maintaining healthy mountain ecosystems brings wider benefits to the economy as a whole, participants have heard at an event chaired by UNEP in Brussels.


UNEP forms part of the EU-funded Ecopotential project, which supports protected areas in applying Earth Observation tools to demonstrate the invaluable role ecosystems play for society.


The project is currently carrying out pilot actions to see how Earth Observation can help guide the sustainable management of ecosystems in a number of internationally-recognised protected areas in Europe and beyond.


At the event, chaired by Ms. Sylvie Motard - Deputy Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe – Ecopototential experts demonstrated how protected areas are providing quantifiable essential ecosystem services in mountain areas, such as fresh water, carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection. Ms Ana Stritih of ETH-Zurich demonstrated that protected mountain environments are more able to return benefits to both highland and lowland communtities for example.


The event was held on 25 April in the margins of the «Mountains for Europe's Future: Putting Mountains on the Horizon 2020 Agenda» conference organised by the CH-AT Alliance.


The Swiss-Austrian CH-AT alliance aims supports research in favour of the sustainable development of European mountain regions. During the main conference, the organisation also presented its ‘Mountains for Europe's Future’ research agenda, which aims to demonstrate the contributions mountains do and can make to life on the lowlands.


The pilot protected areas targeted by Ecopotential mainly include mountain areas but also arid and semi-arid, and coastal and marine ecosystems. They are expected to boost the case to policymakers that protecting the natural environment brings broader economic benefits.


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