Pastoralism in the Himalayan region of Nepal has undergone significant socio-economic and ecological changes. While there are numerous contributing factors behind these changes, the effect of a changing climate has not been thoroughly studied.
This new research offers a significant contribution to the knowledge base through analysis from a survey of 186 herder households, and interviews and discussions with individuals from three National Parks and Conservation areas in the high-mountain region of Nepal. The team also reviewed the existing policies and programs on pastoralism.
The results revealed several contributing factors behind the decline of mountain pastoralism, where livestock are moved from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle:
- Policy focuses on the establishment of conservation areas, increasing vulnerability to extreme events (avalanches, snowfall, storms, and disappearing water sources)
- Ineffective government policies and programs
- Hardships involved in herding, combined with changing social values
- Degradation of pasture quality
Similarly, the team found that declining interest among herders to continue their profession can be traced to vulnerability associated with escalating climate change impacts.
Considerable knowledge gaps regarding threats to high-altitude pastoralism remain, and continued research on pasture conservation, capacity development, facilitation for climate change adaptation, and coping strategies for herders in the high mountains is urgently needed.
The study suggests that non-climatic variables such as policy and globalization were more influential in eroding pastoralism, compared to climate change.
Read the study in Sustainability:
Vulnerability of Pastoralism: A Case Study from the High Mountains of Nepal
By Krishna Raj Tiwari, Bishal Sitaula, Roshan Man Bajracharya, Nani Raut, Prabin Bhusal & Mukunda Sengel.