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Vulnerability of Worldwide Pastoralism to Global Changes and Interdisciplinary Strategies for Sustainable Pastoralism

Shikui Dong, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University; Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University
Lu Wen, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University
Shiliang Liu, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University
Xiangfeng Zhang, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University
James P. Lassoie, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University
Shaoliang Yi, NRM (Land and Water), Aga Khan Foundation (Afghanistan), Kabul, Afghanistan
Xiaoyan Li, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University
Jinpeng Li, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University
Yuanyuan Li, Environmental School, Beijing Normal University


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Ten case studies from seven major pastoral regions across six continents were studied in this paper by conceptualizing three factors (agro-ecosystem resilience, livelihood options, and institution capacity) as the axes of a three-dimensional vulnerability framework. This analysis
highlights the vulnerability of agriculture-based livelihood systems to
global changes and helps identify what institutions have the potential to
mobilize effective relief in different pastoral regions. In terms of
results, this vulnerability assessment shows that the vulnerability of
pastoralism was very different in all the cases across the globe. As such,
a further analysis, based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model was
undertaken to enhance our understanding of the ways that global changes put pressures on pastoral livelihoods worldwide. From this we conclude that
climate change and climate variability are driving fragile pastoral
ecosystems into more vulnerable conditions. Socioeconomic factors, such as
changes in land tenure, agriculture, sedentarization, and institutions are
fracturing large-scale pastoral ecosystems into spatially isolated systems.
The implications of this analysis are that professionals, practitioners, and
policy makers should jointly develop a coupled human and natural systems
approach that focuses on enhancing the resilience of pastoral communities
and their practices. This requires institutional developments to support
asset building and good governance to enhance adaptive capability. In
addition, pastoralists’ adaptation strategies to global change need to be
supported by public awareness and improved by institutional decisions at
different scales and dimensions.

Key words

adaptation management; global change; pastoral systems; resilience enhancement; vulnerability mitigation

Copyright © 2011 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087