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Saving Mountain Cultures and Environments: The Mountain Institute

The Mountain Institute’s mission is to advance mountain cultures and preserve mountain environments. Founded in 1971, we operate community-based programs in the Himalayas, Andes and Appalachian Mountains. Our objectives are to:

  • conserve high priority mountain eco-systems,
  • increase environmentally and culturally sustainable livelihoods for mountain communities, and
  • promote support for mountain issues through advocacy, education and outreach.

Things that Work for Mountains

Experience has taught us that key to the protection of mountain environments is a partnership between the people who live in the mountains and the people who use or manage mountain resources. The Mountain Institute brings "things that work for the mountains" across borders and into local communities to adapt new learning to their own traditional practices. Here are some examples of our work:

In the Andes, The Mountain Institute works closely with local communities to implement a wide range of projects in Huascarán National Park, Peru.

These projects include ecotourism; recovery of traditional weaving techniques and markets; garbage recycling for use in compost, cuy (guinea pig) and agroforestry production, reintroduction of alpacas and llamas complemented with range management improvement using native species; and a program of barefoot veterinarians.

Recognizing that "nature does not recognize political frontiers", The Mountain Institute has been supporting transboundary conservation cooperation between Nepal and China since the early 1990s. The Mt. Everest ecosystem is at the heart of this program, which encompasses 42,000 square kilometers and includes Makalu-Barun, Sagarmatha, Langtang National Parks in Nepal, and Qomolangma Nature Preserve in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Spruce Knob Mountain Center
is our four-hundred acre wilderness campus situated on top of the highest mountain in West Virginia. As an educational center and a registered Biological Field Station, our mountain campus serves community groups, teachers, and thousands of students of all ages, increasing the understanding of mountain environments and the ability to document and share lessons learned.

Our Sacred Mountains program works to learn about, document and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the people in mountain communities. In 1999, a partnership was formed with the United States National Park Service to develop interpretive and educational materials that draw on the cultural and inspirational significance of mountains around the world for display at various parks around United States.

The Mountain Institute also has a long history of experimentation and demonstration of alternative building systems for mountain communities. At the global level, The Mountain Institute works to connect isolated mountain people through the Mountain Forum, a worldwide network of people and organizations working for mountain communities and environments.

Through the Mountain Forum, grassroots organizations are linked directly with each other and with the international policy, development, and research communities.

TMI welcomes your donations to its programs and encourages you to contact its executive office to determine how you may best assist TMI with its mission.

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