Andean Program

Copyright Daniel Byers
The Mountain Institute‘s  (El Instituto de Montaña) South America Program was established in Peru in 1996 during a time of rapid social change in the mountain communities of the northern Andes. The expansion of large-scale mining and hydroelectric projects and a sharp increase in tourism coincided with a rapid decline in traditional means of livelihood within local communities. The resulting conflict between development and traditional cultures not only  exacerbated the economic challenges faced by local populations, it also accelerated deterioration of local mountain ecosystems.
To address these issues, TMI developed comprehensive community-based projects to demonstrate the potential for diversifying local methods of subsistence through community-based tourism and protection of biodiversity hotspots. The program has grown in the past 15 years and Instituto de Montaña is now recognized as one of the leading NGOs in Peru.
To learn more about The Mountain Institute's Andean Program (in Spanish), please visit
Exchanges and Study Tours - Since its inception The Mountain Institute has promoted the exchange of ideas and learning between mountain communities across the globe. We have conducted exchanges between Tibetans and Peruvians, Nepalis and Chinese, Indians and Nepalis, Tibetans and Americans, and West Virginians with North Carolinians.
Vicos Living Memory - Under the leadership of The Mountain Institute, a pilot initative was started in 2003 to repatriate documentary and photographic materials to the Andean community of Vicos. These documents were produced by the Peru-Cornell project, the first worldwide project to test notions such as "community development" and "green revolutions" in the late 1940s. 
Highland-Lowlands Networks for Climate Change Adaptation - Implemented in Rio Santa watershed, a complex geographic area one third the size of Switzerland, this project was launched in 2007 to gather information on local perceptions of climate change impacts in the world's largest collection of tropical glaciers.
Remote Mountain Area Climate Change Research Initative - This project will develop community surveys and a data analysis methodology that will increase our understanding of mountain people's perceptions, threats, current adaptations, and needs regarding climate change.
Cordillera Blanca: A Unique Landscape Explained - In partnership with geographers from University of Amsterdam's Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), The Mountain Institute produced a 200-page field guide in 2007-2008 to create awareness about the geo-ecology of this fragile landscape and the increased threat of natural hazards due to climate change.
Case Studies - The Mountain Institute recently completed two case studies concerned with conflict in mountain communities in Nepal and Peru.  1) "An Analysis of NGO Service Delivery Capacities in Nepal During Times of Conflict and Uncertanity," and 2) "Private Sector and Local Community Relationships: the Role of PVOs and Local NGOs in Promoting Democracy, Conservation and Sustainability in Peru."
Cultural Revival of Andean Traditional Textiles - Weaving traditions in the Andes are thousands of years old and of high quality in many places. A pilot project was launched in 1998 to support family groups in two communities of the Huaripampa region to recover an almost-lost weaving tradition as a way to create new income opportunities for their communities.
Community Participation in the Expenditure of Public and Private Funds From Mining South - Following the largest investment of public and private funds that has been made available to mountain communities in the 186 years of republican history in Peru, there remains a lack of understanding of community perspectives and priorities on how these funds should be invested to achieve logical goals and sustainable development.