By G. Grabherr, L. Nagy, D. B. A. Thompson (auth.), Dr. Laszlo Nagy, Prof. Dr. Georg Grabherr, Prof. Dr. Christian Körner, Prof. Dr. Desmond B. A. Thompson (eds.)

The United countries convention at the setting and improvement (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, spawned a large number of professional­ grammes aimed toward assessing, handling and holding the earth's organic variety. One vital factor addressed on the convention used to be the mountain setting. a selected characteristic of excessive mountains is the so-called alpine sector, i. e. the treeless areas on the uppermost reaches. notwithstanding masking just a very small share of the land floor, the alpine quarter includes a rela­ tively huge variety of crops, animals, fungi and microbes that are specifi­ cally tailored to chilly environments. This quarter contributes essentially to the planet's biodiversity and gives many assets for mountain residing in addition to lowland humans. besides the fact that, swift and mostly man-made adjustments are affecting mountain ecosystems, comparable to soil erosion, losses of habitat and genetic range, and weather swap, all of that have to be addressed. As acknowledged within the eu group Biodiversity procedure, "the worldwide scale of biodiversity aid or losses and the interdependence of other species and ecosystems throughout nationwide borders calls for concerted overseas action". handling biodiversity in a rational and sustainable approach wishes simple wisdom on its qualitative and quantitative features at neighborhood, local and worldwide scales. this is often relatively actual for mountains, that are dispensed during the international and are certainly sizzling spots of biodiversity in absolute phrases in addition to relative to the encircling lowlands.

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Chap. 3), Corsica (Chap. 9), and the Pyrenees (Sese et al. 1999). 5 Vegetation and Its Responses to a Changing Environment The alpine vegetation of the Scandes is well documented in over 100 studies. Pc1hlsson (1994) gave a summary of the 48 alpine vegetation types with literature references. The number of described vegetation units is much larger. If some rare types are considered, about 80 types of vegetation in total can be recognised in the Scandes. In the middle oroarctic zone of the NW Finnish Lapland alone, Virtanen and Eurola (1997) described 31 vegetation types.

For example, steep slopes may impose topographic limits on the distribution of trees or closed grasslands at altitudes below their climatic limits. 2. 2. ) in metres :: 0 '" '"0 3 0 ;:r' >-l ;.. t;,:, 0 p.. "' 1'1> ... g. serpentinite), igneous Granite, crystalline schists Limestones, metamorphic (ophiolites or serpentine), crystalline schists Crystalline Sedimentary; limestone Metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary Igneous Pyrenees Caucasus Corsica Rila-Rodopi Massif Apennines Baetic mountains (inci.

Jerruginea, C. firma, c. sempervirens and C. g. g. Festuca halleri group or F. varia group) and their associates belong to a specific group of plants which is endemic to the mountains of the Alps system, and which may have originated from the old Tertiary mountain flora of southern Europe. Nival summits are clustered in the Alps and the Caucasus (Fig. 2), along with a few peaks in the Pyrenees. In the nival zone, scattered assemblages of cushion plants, small rosette plants, and small grasses occupy favourable sites, but, floristically, clearly defined communities (associations) of species can still be distinguished in different habitats.

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