Grass- and wetlands cover the areas of the high Andes from the treeline and up to the edge of the snow. These unique ecosystems include the neotropical alpine grasslands, known as páramos, dry and wet puna grasslands and other wetlands. Páramos cover the upper part of the northern Tropical Andes and wet punas occupy a similar niche in the Central Andes. These grasslands, containing millions of streams, rivers, lakes, and various kinds of wetlands, are crucial to the hydrology of the mountains, providing water to tens of millions of people downstream. They are also important for biodiversity and provide carbon storage (Myers et al., 2000). Carbon stocks in Andean ecosystems are comparable with those in tropical lowland forests, especially when organic carbon stocks in the soil are considered (Spracklen and Righelato, 2014). Anthropogenic pressure, from agriculture and climate change in particular, threatens the capacity of these ecosystems and their services. Páramos are among the ecosystems most threatened by climate change, with one biome-based model predicting a loss of 31 per cent of páramos by 2050 (Tovar et al., 2013), without including the added threat of landuse change.
From collection: Outlook on climate change adaptation in the Tropical Andes mountains
GRID-Arendal and Cartografare il Presente/Riccardo Pravettoni