An integrated community and ecosystem-based approach to disaster risk reduction in mountain systems

Jessica Paula Rose Thorn, Julia A. Klein, Catherine M. Tucker, Cara Steger, Anne W. Nolin, Robin Reid, Kelly A. Hopping, Emily T. Yeh, Meeta S. Pradhan, Andrew Taber, David Molden, Rucha Ghate, Dhrupad Chaudhury, Irasema Alcantera-Ayala, Sandra Lavorel, Birgit Muller, Adrienne Gret-Regamey, Randalle B. Boone, Patrick Bourgeron, Edwin CastellanosX. Chen, Shikui Dong, Margreth Keiler, Roman Seidl, Karina Yager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


The devastating 2015 earthquakes in Nepal highlighted the need for effective disaster risk reduction (DRR) in mountains, which are inherently subject to hazards and increasingly vulnerable to extreme events. As multiple UN policy frameworks stress, DRR is crucial to mitigate the mounting environmental and socioeconomic costs of disasters globally. However, specialized DRR guidelines are needed for biodiverse, multi-hazard regions like mountains. Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) emphasizes ecosystem conservation, restoration, and sustainable management as key elements for DRR. We propose that integrating the emerging field of Eco-DRR with community-based DRR (CB-DRR) will help address the increasing vulnerabilities of mountain people and ecosystems. Drawing on a global mountain synthesis, we present paradoxes that create challenges for DRR in mountains and examine these paradoxes through examples from the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. We propose four principles for integrated CB- and Eco-DRR that address these challenges: (1) governance and institutional arrangements that fit local needs; (2) empowerment and capacity-building to strengthen community resilience; (3) discovery and sharing of constructive practices that combine local and scientific knowledge; and (4) approaches focused on well-being and equity. We illustrate the reinforcing relationship between integrated CB- and Eco-DRR principles with examples from other mountain systems worldwide. Coordinated community and ecosystem-based actions offer a potential path to achieve DRR, climate adaptation, sustainable development, and biodiversity conservation for vulnerable ecosystems and communities worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Disasters
  • Governance
  • Mountains
  • Nepal
  • Resilience
  • Sustainable development


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