Testing for consensus on Kyrgyz rangelands: local perceptions in Naryn oblast
Jordan Levine, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Aiganysh Isaeva, Mountain Societies Research Institute, University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Hisham Zerriffi, Department of Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Ian M. S. Eddy, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Marc Foggin, Mountain Societies Research Institute, University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Sarah E. Gergel, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Shannon M. Hagerman, Department of Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
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Consensus on the state of rangelands is often elusive. This is especially true in the primarily agropastoral former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Some argue Kyrgyz rangeland is being rapidly degraded by overgrazing. However, poor data and climatic changes confound this assessment. Thus there is contention amongst researchers, state officials, and local agropastoralists about the etiology and appropriate degree of concern regarding changes in flora and landscape patterns. This lack of consensus makes pasture management difficult for local elected managers. In this study, we use audiovisual primes, structured interview tasks, and consensus analysis to examine the degree of agreement among local agropastoralists of Naryn oblast about (a) the nature of several degradation-ambiguous plant and landscape types found in the area, and (b) indicators of “good” pasture. We find relatively little interparticipant agreement on high-resolution details, but a pattern of consensus regarding (i) a refutation of select species as indicators of degradation, as well as (ii) apparent shared heuristics for determining what makes for good, versus bad, pasture. We consider socio-historical and cognitive drivers of these patterns, and close with a discussion of implications for management.
Central Asia; consensus analysis; degradation; herding; Kyrgyzstan; local perceptions; management; pastoralism; post-Soviet
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