‘Vanishing Treasures’ – protecting vulnerable mountain species

Vanishing Treasures’ – protecting vulnerable mountain species 

  • Geographical scope:  Virunga mountains (Uganda, Rwanda), Central Asian mountains (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan), Hindu-Kush Himalayas (Bhutan). 
  • Time frame:  2018-2023. 
  • Priority area: Climate change
  • Partners: Great Apes Partnership Survival and the Climate Change Adaptation Unit. 
  • Donors: Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 
  • Contribution to SDGs:  Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Goal 15 (Life on Land). 

Environmental challenge 

In the Himalayas, global warming is happening 75% faster than the global average. This is expected to reduce snow leopard habitats globally by two thirds by 2070, and by more than 80% specifically in Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. 

Bengal tigers found in the Himalayas are threatened by shrinking and fragmented habitats. Local communities are increasingly faced with climate-related impacts, such as dried water ponds. This is likely to lead to an intensification of human-wildlife conflict. 

Meanwhile, just 880 mountain gorillas remain in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla has a small population, highly restricted geographic range and low reproductive rate. It will struggle to change habitat, leading to an increased risk of conflict and spread of disease between the great ape and people.  


The UN Environment Programme is working with partners to ensure that climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation work hand-in-hand. The work is coordinated by our Vienna Office and addresses threats to key mountain species across the globe. The overall aim is to better understand the species’ vulnerability to climate change and the ecosystem services being affected.  

For example, countries are developing national plans to take ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change into account. Actions being considered include movement corridors for species, the rehabilitation of swamps and water catchment areas and the restoration of fauna. An inquiry has also been launched to better understand the links between climate change and mountain species, and how to address this.  

In the long-term, by working with local communities, the project aims to promote alternative land-use practices that can contribute to climate mitigation and reduce pressure on species living close to the communities.  




Any questions? 

For more information, please contact [email protected]  

To find out about more about the United Nations Environment Programme’s work on mountains, visit the Carpathian Convention website: www.carpathianconvention.org