LuMont, the Lusophony Mountain Research Network, met physically for the first time on October 7, 2016, in Bragança, Portugal. This was a very expected meeting since LuMont was until this date mostly a virtual network with general goals and objectives set by CIMO, the Mountain Research Centre at the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, who lead the process. The Lusophony Mountain Research Network had as goals the promotion of information flow among researchers and research institutions dedicated to mountains, and the creation of more and better opportunities for research partnerships, projects, grants, educational programmes, and other initiatives. Apparently modest, this is not an easy goal to achieve due to the spread of the researchers in the network over a number of countries in several continents and the diverse economic and development contexts where research takes place.
LuMont was launched in late 2015 as part of the preparatory work for Mountains 2016. LuMont was assumed by the organizers to be one of the major outcomes of the conference. Mountain issues have not been a priority in research and development in Portuguese speaking countries in spite of the fact that mountains in countries such as Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Principe are important components of their geography if not dominant.
The network was established centered on a website and on the MRI Experts Database. MRI supported LuMont also by providing strategic guidance and by connecting this with other existing networks around the world. The network includes today near 90 researchers from several countries.
A LuMont physical meeting was a unique opportunity not just to validate the network but also to discuss goals and objectives and direction for the future. Several dozen participated in this one hour meeting, including members from Brazil, Angola, and Portugal. Many participants from several other countries also attended the meeting although it was conducted in Portuguese. Portugal was represented at highest institutional level by Paulo Ferrão, President of FCT, the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education), and by several participants from Portuguese universities and research centres. Brazil was represented by Pedro Machado, representative of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) in Europe and many researchers and faculty from Brazilian universities. Angola was represented by Francisco Gonçalves from the ISCED-Huíla, Lubango, Angola. Ângela Moreno, Director of INIDA (National Institute for Agriculture Research and Development) in Cape Verde left earlier but transmitted her enthusiasm regarding LuMont.
Following a short presentation of the network, several participants expressed their views concerning expectations, goals, and priorities for the network. Most members defended information sharing as the most important goal for the network. This could be simply information sharing through a web site or email lists but could also involve turning national and international databases data available to all members. In addition to information flow, participants mentioned interactive discussion among researchers, education (graduate programmes), support of sustainable development through education in all the countries involved, and project preparation and submission as essential goals of the network. The debate ended with a discussion on existing and future funding programmes that LuMont members could target in their research projects. These include existing bilateral agreements and the participation of Portuguese speaking countries out of Europe as third country participants in European projects. José Santos (CIMO/IPB) proposed the creation of a funding scheme similar to the EU ERA-NETs (European Research Area networks) supported collectively among LuMont countries. The meeting ended with the public commitment of the FCT President towards the support of the development, functioning, and funding of LuMont in the near future.
The LuMont network needs your involvement. Please register at the MRI Experts database and visit the website of LuMont.