Mountains as Contexts for Global Change – Making Connections at the 18th Swiss Geosciences Meeting 2020
MRI News
article written by MRI
30.11.20 | 05:11

The 18th Swiss Geosciences Meeting (SGM) took place virtually earlier this month, offering a series of scientific symposia on the diverse spectrum of current research in geosciences, encompassing the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the biosphere, the atmosphere, and the anthroposphere. Among the sessions on offer was the cross-cutting theme for the session titled ‘Mountains as Contexts of Global Change‘, co-convened by the MRI, the Interdisciplinary Center for Mountain Research (CIRM), and the SCNAT Forum Landscapes, Alps and Parks (FoLAP).

Mountain regions offer concrete contexts through which challenges and opportunities of global change are experienced, perceived, and enacted. Combining multiple and diverse knowledge streams across the natural and social sciences, accounting for the complexity of social-ecological interactions, are increasingly called for in mountain research. So, how are we tracking along this imperative, and what exemplars of this type of integrative research are currently being undertaken by Swiss-based and other geoscientists working in mountains, worldwide?

In this session, the co-conveners sought to offer a space to showcase research conducted in mountain areas that address these topics, discuss such challenges, and identify emerging new avenues for research and collaboration among natural and social scientists dealing with global change issues in mountain regions. It was also an opportunity for the co-conveners to meet with and connect with researchers in Switzerland who are conducting research on these topics, and offer a platform for them to connect with a broader and vibrant international community of researchers exploring similar topics.

The session was well-attended, and offered a great opportunity to hear and learn from diverse experiences and ongoing research on (global) change processes and their consequences for mountain social-ecological systems. The presentations varied greatly in terms of thematic foci, which included topics such as food, water, ecosystems change, wildfire, land-use, tourism, research methods (transdisciplinary research) and placed-based field research with local communities, nature-based solutions and transformations to sustainability, monitoring change in mountains, and combinations of at least some of these themes in context. Likewise, diverse spatial contexts were covered, with research examples from the Americas (Andes), Pyrenees, Switzerland, and other cases around the Alps, Montenegro, Vietnam, Georgia, Afghanistan, as well as regional and global perspectives. Some presentations also reflected on promising advances on the methodological front, particularly on the integration of methods in a transdisciplinary research context. Prospects to explore these diverse findings in a synthesis format are being investigated as part of a planned publication. And last, but certainly not least, the session also offered a great opportunity for networking, which under the current COVID-19 constraints is still necessary to do to help connect researchers and in particular our community of early career researchers. 

The co-conveners would like to thank the valuable contributions and presentations made within this session, listed below:

Factors that facilitate and hinder the development of inter and/or transdisciplinary projects for improving the quality of life of smallholder integrated farming systems in the Peruvian Andes
Gómez C., Varas M.N., Fuentes E.

Glacier Tourism facing climate change, a research project across the Alps
Salim E., Ravanel L., Gauchon C., Deline P.

Impacts of climate and land use on 12,000 years of vegetation dynamics in the Italian Alps
Van Vugt L., Gobet E., Brechbühl S., Stengele K., Tinner W., Schwörer C.                 

State territorialization and transition of upland forest frontier spaces in post-socialist Vietnam
Nguyen V.T.H., Kull C.A

Long-term social-natural monitoring in mountains: the case of Switzerland
Asse D., Payne D., Guisan A., Randin C.F.

Agrobiocultural Resilience in Alpine Foodscapes: reshuffling of local and innovative food practices
Bassignana C.F., Rastorgueva N., Migliorini P.

From a ‘Territory of Life’ to a ‘Territory of Death’? The Save Sinjajevina movement.
Dominguez P.

Convergence and divergence between ancestral and modern knowledge in the “sowing” and “harvesting” of water: the case of the Community of Chuschi, Ayacucho, Peru.
Castro E., Castro W., Cooper L., Garcia T.

Headwater-dependent systems for characterizing coupled socio-ecological adaptations to changing water resources
Fremier A., Padowski J., Scott C.A., Walsh-Dilley M., Célleri R., Arumi J.L., Barra R., Munoz E., Sánchez-Murillo R., Martín F., Boll J., Stone M.C.

Participatory Policy Review: “Supportive Tourism” Concept for Hand-in-hand Mountain Economic Development
Gugushvili T., Salukvadze J.

Climate change adaptation in Andean communities: insights into livelihoods tensions
Muñoz R., Santos M.J., Huggel C.

The hammer of extinction and the dance with wildland fire use; the new fire deal in Pyrenees to foster socio-ecological resilience to climate change challenges
Oliveres J., Duane A., Brotons L., Castellnou M., Rosas-Casals M.

An operational framework for assessing transformative change through nature-based solutions in mountains
Palomo I., Locatelli B., Crouzat E., Otero I., Bruley E., Cuni-Sanchez A., Colloff M., Gómez-Baggethun E., González-García A., Grêt-Regamey A., Jimenez-Aceituno A., Martín-López B., Pascual U., Zafra-Calvo N., Fischborn M., Metz R., Lavorel S.

Relation between cryosphere and human activities: 280 years of adaptation of glacier tourism to glacier fluctuations.
Salim E., Mabboux L., Gauchon C., Deline P., Ravanel L.

Is tourism the beginning or the end? Livelihoods of Georgian mountain people at stake
Salukvadze G., Backhaus N.  

Developing indicators for sustainable regional development in mountain areas
Tribaldos T., Rist S.

Digital multilocality: marginality as a strategy for novel work arrangements between center and periphery in Switzerland
Bürgin R., Mayer H., Haug S., Kashev A.

A book of abstracts is also available for download here, which can be cited as follows:

Adler, C., Otero, I., Reynard, E., Balsiger, J. (2020). Session 27: Mountains as contexts for global change: interdisciplinary experiences, challenges and new perspectives across the natural and social sciences. 18th Swiss Geosciences Meeting, 6-7 November 2020, pp: 576-601. ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Platform Geosciences, Swiss Academy of Sciences, SCNAT.