Nominee – Montaña Limpia
Montaña Limpia is a stewardship campaign of Acceso PanAm that engages climbers, hikers, and local communities on a cleanup and give-back-to-the-mountains action. The campaign now includes an App called Montaña Limpia, meaning Clean Mountain, that allows people to make a difference in preserving the environment by promoting the collection of waste in mountain areas and uploading relevant information into the App which will lead to identifying trends, prioritizing actions and decisions on the waste problem in the mountains of Latin America.
Vision, goals and objectives
Montaña Limpia is a stewardship campaign that engages climbers, hikers, and local communities on a cleanup, giveback-to-the-mountains action. The campaign includes an App called Montaña Limpia, which means Clean Mountain in English, that allows people to make a difference in preserving the environment by promoting the collection of waste in mountain areas and uploading relevant information into the App which will lead to identifying trends, prioritising actions and decisions on the waste problem in the mountains of Latin America.
Acceso PanAm is committed to reducing the amount of garbage present in climbing and mountaineering areas in Latin America. In 2013 it launched the campaign “A limpiar las montañas” (let’s clean the mountains) and in 2019 it created the campaign “Montaña Limpia” (clean mountain). With the support of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), it developed an application that records garbage collections by entering data about the collected waste. In this way, the information generated helps to better understand the problem of garbage in different parts of Latin America and to find and design future solutions. The App also allows users to organize clean-up days for people to join, in an effort to collect garbage in climbing sectors, trails or mountain areas.
A next goal is to obtain more resources to improve the App with new functions and features that allow the information collected to be processed, turning it into a tool for managing garbage in mountain areas. Currently the information collected with the App is stored in a database. Acceso PanAm believes that the data collected should reach decision makers and industries and companies responsible for generating waste in order to promote sustainable policies and practices. The organisation believes data can be a powerful tool to educate decision makers about the waste problem in mountain areas and empower them to enact good policy, at the same time it serves to show the productive practices of companies and promote a change towards more sustainable methods, as well as changes in people’s behaviour when visiting mountain areas. By transforming the data collected with the App into compelling and engaging visualizations the aim is at broadening its reach and impact.
One of the advantages of this initiative is that because it is an App, it can be used anywhere in the world, expanding its reach beyond Latin America.
Expected implementation and outcomes
The App was created to record waste in climbing areas, trails or mountain areas, promoting the collection of the garbage found in these places, and also offers information on how to handle special waste in natural spaces. The data recorded is automatically incorporated into Montaña Limpia’s database and over time will help identifying trends, prioritising actions and decisions on the problem of waste in the mountains of Latin America. With the support of EOCA, in 2019 on the occasion of the International Mountain Day garbage collections were organised simultaneously in 8 Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay) registering 350 kilos of garbage collected by 256 volunteers in an area of 124 kms. 36 organisations and 21 local climbing groups participated, and 29 events were registered in the App. The App allowed to register and classify the garbage collected.
In 2020, 34 clean-up days were organised through the App, in 6 different countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, México). During these events 306 kilos of waste were collected and recorded 3630 pieces of garbage. 76 volunteers covered an area of 146 kms, with the participation of 25 organizations. For these events safety protocols were put in place regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. For this reason, fewer volunteers were present but still managed to maintain pretty much the same levels of garbage collection as in 2019.
This citizen science project engages, mobilises, educates and creates awareness as well as collects data that will allow to make wiser decisions about the waste problem in the mountains. Montaña Limpia also provided for new alliances, reconvene with climbing organizations, and reach broader audiences.
Climbing, mountaineering or outdoor sport focus
Montaña Limpia is designed as a tool for climbers, hikers and other visitors in mountain areas to gain and produce knowledge on the impact of recreation in mountain ecosystems. The App allows users to upload important data that will be used to influence changes in people’s behaviour, policies and production practices when needed, and it also provides the user with relevant information on the importance of responsible recreation in mountain areas.
Climbing and hiking have the potential to inspire people to become stewards of their land, protecting threatened mountain ecosystems and the recreation experience. Community engagement, awareness and advocacy are a crucial part of conservation.
Best practice in mountaineering and mountain-based sports for mountain protection
There is no other initiative like this one that seeks to apply the use of data involving climbers, hikers, visitors, tourists and communities in mountain areas to join forces in order to reduce and eventually eliminate the negative impact of garbage in the mountains and natural areas. The data collected can be used to reduce the negative impact of human activities on nature, data allows to analyse, predict, and recommend action.
It is Acceso PanAm’s aim to stop waste from reaching landfills and seas / oceans in order to help in environment sustainability by using data as a decision-support tool to guide sustainability efforts.
To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.
Please note that the content published in this article is courtesy of the Award nominee. The UIAA has made minor revisions to the original submission.