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Conference focuses on human use of mountains

Scientists and environmentalists from around the world will gather in Banff this month for the fifth in a series of Mountain Communities Conferences hosted by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre.

By Carol Picard, editor

Rocky Mountain Outlook

This year's conference is entitled Interdisciplinary Research and Management in Mountain Areas (IRMMA), with speakers and experts from Europe, Africa, Australia, the USA and Canada.

Following on the heels of last year's hugely successful Mountains as Water Towers and Sustainable Mountain Communities conferences, this year's event will focus on the uses and outcomes of applying a wide range of scientific and sociologic research to study human impacts on the world's mountain areas. Included in those fields of study are climatology, archaeology, history, anthropology, sociology and ecology.

The conference, Sept. 23 to 27, will include both plenary sessions and panel discussions examining the long-term influences of humans in mountain areas and the initiatives being used around the world to manage those impacts.

Participants will also have a field trip to explore the restoration and management of the montane ecosystems in Banff National Park.

A number of local experts are scheduled to make presentations, including Kim Endres, director of the Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment (AMPPE), elk researcher Mark Hebblewhite, former Bow Valley Naturalists president Mike McIvor, and Bruce Leeson and Ian Pengelly of Parks Canada.

Among the case studies to be presented are the impact of high-voltage transmission lines in the Australian ranges, corridor restoration and heritage tourism in Banff, global climate change and its impact on mountain ecology, intensive mountain agriculture in Nepal, the balance between people, wolves, elk and aspen in Banff National Park and a look at what's happened in the 10 years since the Bow Valley Study was completed.

The ongoing series of conferences, which began in 2001, provides researchers a chance to share and learn from each other, said Mountain Culture director Leslie Taylor.

"The Banff Centre mandate includes environmental programming, and Mountain Culture's mandate includes helping people share mountain experiences and ideas. In our opinion, mountain communities worldwide have a great deal in common – often more in common than with flatland communities in their same countries – and as a result, mountain communities can learn from each other's problems and solutions."

For more information about the conference, go to http://www. nferences/irmma/