To provide a global context for a discussion of mountain forests, it is first necessary to define the locations and types of mountain forests, and this in turn requires a definition of mountains or mountain areas. Altitude and slope and the environmental gradients they generate are key components of such a definition, but their combination is problematic. Simple altitude thresholds both exclude older and lower mountain systems and include areas of relatively high elevation that have little topographic relief and few environmental gradients. Using slope as a criterion on its own or in combination with altitude can resolve the latter problem, but not the former. As a first step to evaluating global mountain forest resources and the threats to them, UNEP-WCMC (in collaboration with the Environmental Change Institute and kindly supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation - SDC) in 2000 made a first attempt to map the mountain forests of the world.Click for a larger image
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