International Mountain Day highlights biodiversity

man running on a ridge
Run for the hills! Celebrating mountain environments. (Image credit: Getty)

It was International Mountain Day on December 11. You may have only noticed because your social media feeds were suddenly full of mountain images. Or, if that’s the normal way of things, you might not have noticed at all.

You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a day for everything nowadays. reliably informs me that today is Lemon Cupcake Day. But if you haven’t heard of International Mountain Day before, rest assured that this celebration goes much wider and older than an Instagram hashtag.

Back in 2002, the United Nations declared International Year of the Mountain. To mark the occasion, they named December 11 to be International Mountain Day from 2003 onwards. This celebration has been taking place for over a decade and helps foster greater awareness of mountain issues. For instance, 2019’s theme was Mountains Matter for Youth.

This year’s theme is biodiversity and reflects on the importance of biodiversity in the mountains: both a celebration of nature and an acknowledgement of the threats it faces.

UNESCO, which first added a mountain landscape to the World Heritage list in 1993, says, “Mountains are home to 15% of the world´s population and host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity.”

The UN itself also provides some interesting statistics and fact sheets. “Mountains cover: about 27% of the Earth’s land surface and are found on all continents, half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and 30% of Key Biodiversity Areas.”

To find out more about the day and the proposals to help halt biodiversity loss, visit the International Mountain Day homepage.

Emily Woodhouse

An adventure writer based on Dartmoor, England, Emily is an active member of Mountain Rescue and a summer Mountain Leader, but loves all things adventure – before her third birthday she had lived on three continents. Founder of Intrepid magazine, she works to help break stereotypes about women in the outdoors. Her expeditions have included walking all Dartmoor’s 119 tors in a single two-week outing, cycling to Switzerland and back, and riding the Rhine from source to sea.