Western University renews support for UIAA Mountain Protection Award

Mountain Protection
he UIAA Mountain Protection Award is now a $10,000 prize with the renewed support of Western University and a yet to be named sponsor.
This year’s deadline for receiving nominations for projects is 31 August 2014. The award is open to companies which organize tourism / adventure activities in mountain areas and associations which have developed innovative ecotourism activities.
All projects submitted are reviewed by the Assessment and Awards Team and if chosen for nomination will be showcased on the award website and promoted through UIAA news and social media channels.
The winning project will be announced and given out at the annual gathering of our partner, the Kiku. International Mountain Summit – IMS in Brixen, Italy (16-24 October 2014).
The aim of the award is to promote an awareness of the need to promote responsible
mountain tourism practices and reward outstanding initiatives from mountain stakeholders (associations and tourism agencies).  It supports community-based tourism that simultaneously contributes to the conservation of ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods for local people.
“Our Commission is delighted with the very impressive field of diverse candidates that the Mountain Protection Award attracted in its first year,” said UIAA Mountain Protection Commission president Linda McMillan.
“We are equally delighted and very grateful that Western University has offered to not only serve again as this year’s MPA sponsor, but to generously double the cash prize for this unique award. Western University’s support and expertise will ensure continued success for this innovative way to promote mountain protection around the world,” said McMillan.
“We are proud to be associated with the UIAA Mountain Protection Award because we have a shared belief in the need to protect the mountains we love, climb and travel around,”  said Professor Zemfira Mammadova, Rector of Western University.
Projects submitted should involve environmental concerns and activities linked with:
  • Energy efficiency
  • Conservation initiatives
  • Waste management
  • Community activities
  • Water conservation
Projects that involve collaboration with and the support of local communities are of particular interest to the awards panel.
The winner of the inaugural 2013 UIAA Mountain Protection Award was the Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area (GCCA) situated in the northern highlands of Ethiopia.
Since 2009, the GCCA has seen a steady growth in the number of visitors, under an innovative management plan where a council of community elders who represent nine communities oversees an administrative executive board.
The conservation area was created in 2003 to protect both a diverse region with rare animals such as the Ethiopian wolf, Gelada baboon, and Ankober Serin, as well as a response to the problem of illegal grazing on environmentally sensitive grasslands. The conservation plan today is based on centuries’ old local Qero communal system of grassland management.
Income generated through ecotourism projects to replace illegal grass cutting includes locally managed tourist bungalows and guided trips. Profit is re-invested in the community with 60 per cent of revenue going to community development projects such as schools, teaching supplies, scholarships and health care, while the remaining 40 per cent is re-invested in tourism infrastructure and maintenance.