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Why Mountains Matter

These important and influential landscapes—whether described in terms of plate tectonics, watersheds, ecosystem services, or sacred places—are essential to the environmental, economic, social, spiritual, and cultural identity and well-being of the diverse peoples.

In Canada, almost 24%, or 2.3 million km2, of the landmass is covered by mountains.

These extensive mountain systems provide a wide range of benefits, such as fresh water, biodiversity/biocultural diversity, natural resources, energy, shelter, recreation, and cultural and spiritual connection and healing. These benefits and values are delivered far beyond mountain landscapes and into the valleys, lowlands, and coasts to which mountains are meteorologically, hydrologically, biologically, and culturally connected.

A small fishing community of six structures next to a large, melting body of water. Text on the images states "It is no accident that 80% of the world's remaining biodiversity exists on Indigenous-managed land."

Remoteness, resource abundance, and low population densities in many mountain regions in Canada result in both economic opportunities and challenges. Communities desire both economic development and diversification, while at the same time aiming to preserve the special mountain systems that they are a part of.

Many Indigenous communities, who have been an integral part of the landscape for thousands of years, express a desire work to protect and revive their connections to the land, cultural traditions, and ways of life, while also building sustainable livelihoods.

Mountains are special and sacred to a diversity of peoples, and comprise an array of different ecological systems connecting the land, animals and people who live there. It is no accident that 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity exists on Indigenous-managed land. Indeed, the fact that many rural and remote economies within mountain systems are land-based makes these places an important and necessary focus for efforts toward reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and Settlers.

Facts and Figures


of freshwater resources around the world come from mountain headwaters.


of our biodiversity is concentrated in mountain regions.

9.2 Million

people visited Canadian mountain parks in 2018.

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