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Vulnerability of the Tibetan Pastoral Systems to Climate and Global Change

Yang Wang, Peking University
Jun Wang, Peking University ShenZhen Graduate School
Shuangcheng Li, Peking University
Dahe Qin, Peking University;China Meteorological Administration

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06803-190408

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Abstract

The impacts of climate and global change on Tibetan pastoral systems have become increasingly evident. Thus, a significant research endeavor is to explore the combined effects of these changes on the livelihoods of herder households and communities, on the adaptation strategies they adopted to respond to the current and expected risks associated with these changes, and on the emerging opportunities that can strengthen their resilience and adaptive capacity. We performed an integrated analysis of the dynamics of Tibetan pastoral systems influenced by climate and global changes by using the analytical framework developed by Ostrom. Climate and global changes have significantly altered the attributes of and the interactions within Tibetan pastoral systems, thus posing great challenges to their sustainable development. We used Nagqu County, a remote area of the northern Tibetan Plateau of China, as a case study to analyze the adaptation strategies adopted by local herders to respond to multiple stressors, as well as the emerging opportunities that they can take advantage of to increase their adaptive capacity. Findings show that although local herders have developed various adaptation strategies, such as planting forage grass, buying fodder from the market, renting pastures, joining formal or informal cooperatives, and diversifying livelihoods, social, cultural, and institutional challenges still exist. To enhance the adaptive capacity of herders and to reduce their vulnerability, we recommend that future rangeland policies and programs promote: (1) comprehensive support for formal or informal pastoral cooperatives, (2) development of the rangeland economy to take advantage of the multifunctionalities of rangeland ecosystems, and (3) revitalization of the mobility paradigm to allow the flexible use of rangelands.

Key words

adaptation; climate change; global change; herders; livelihood; Tibetan Plateau; vulnerability

Copyright © 2014 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.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087