Mobile pastoralists the world over share a common understanding – an understanding of the landscape, of the changing seasons, of the plants, of their animals. A common ability to read the land and be part of it – maintaining and enriching its diversity. They are also facing unprecedented challenges and the very same pressures that threaten our environment also threaten their itinerant ways of life. The voice of the mobile pastoralist is little heard in the cacophony of modern existence and general discord with the natural world.
Our programme of work in close collaboration with communities, aims to help mobile pastoralists around the world move freely through the landscape for nature, for the climate and for life and living.
Mobile pastoralism, has endured across almost the entire world in one form or another for thousands of years mainly due to its social-ecological resilience with its key practises and institutions to adapt to external forces. Yet the threats of modern era they are facing are beyond their capability to maintain the same state which leads to abandonment of this lifestyle and calls for an urgent action.
Despite the need to conserve the practice is among the most pressing needs at global level, mobile pastoralism still has not been paid enough attention by the global nature conservation movement. This is one of the leading reasons why the knowledge we have of the multiple benefits the practise provides to both humankind and nature; its current situation at global level; the drivers of the threats and the gaps and needs that conservation efforts should address is still lacking and fragmented. It is also not easy to access the existing information by many of those who would need them most and the lack of efficient transfer of the existing knowledge leads to limited use for actions on the ground.
Therefore, this package focuses on ensuring a finer scale of understanding of the state of play at local, national and global levels and thus to identify gaps and needs.
Learning from Communities
Mobile pastoralists hold a rich body of knowledge on ecological processes, the landscapes they live in, plant species and rangeland vegetation dynamics, other wildlife populations and changes in their populations etc. This knowledge is an important source of information that complements conservation research and moves towards a more holistic understanding of rangeland ecosystems. Transmitted through generations it ensures a finer spatial and temporal scale and enriches scientific knowledge sets with new variables.
This is also the case with climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. With their traditional ecological knowledge ensuring attentiveness to environmental variability, shifts and trends, mobile pastoralist communities provide a crucial foundation in researching and responding to climate change and developing geographically-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Thus this work package focuses on the contribution of mobile pastoralists to our common wellbeing, and the lessons for life and living they hold emerging from their accumulated experiences of thousands of years.
The experience of global nature conservation movement over the last few decades resulted with a major shift towards recognizing that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of eco-systems and there is a strong linkage between the conservation of traditional cultural practises and the protection of biodiversity.
Mobile pastoralism, shaping the landscapes worldwide for thousands of years, is among these traditional cultural practises. The traditional ecological knowledge with its strategies which characterize many of the key practices and institutions of these communities have indispensable functions for conservation and fostering high biodiversity such as forging ecological corridors between different habitats and thus avoiding their isolation and fragmentation; supporting landscapes of high ecological value etc. Abandonment of the practise, particularly in favour of intensive livestock management, can result in massive biodiversity loss.
Thus this work package focuses on increasing our understanding with evidence base scientific studies regarding practise’s strong links with biodiversity and its importance for conservation and management of landscapes with the species they support.
Advocacy and On the Ground Support
Despite the fact that their social-ecological resilience -built on traditional ecological knowledge- absorbing change and providing the capacity to adapt to change, enabled them to endure across almost the entire world in one form or another for thousands of years,traditional mobile pastoral communities particularly in the last century have suffered from historic injustices such as, inter alia, dispossession (either by expropriation or privatization) of the rangelands and migration routes they use, thus denial of their rights to their traditional lands and prevention from using these lands. Lacking access to institutionalized power many pastoral populations became politically and economically marginalized, even found themselves criminalized just because they maintain their will to move.
Thus this work package, central to the entire programme, contributes to the securing of rights for mobile pastoralist communities globally and nationally and to addressing key issues identified with the communities.
Walking hundreds of miles with their herds in search of food and water, mobile pastoralist communities have shaped the landscapes of the world, its food and its culture as a whole for thousands years of interaction. Their long journey, both in spatial and temporal aspects, have resulted with a diversity of values responding the very fundamental questions of our common life on earth such as what well being is and what contributes to it. This knowledge can not be captured in one dimension since it is a complex living thing evolving constantly with the communities. It should be embraced within the context of their realities, worldviews as it is strongly embedded in these communities and their value systems. This complex and sophisticated way of life, even with all its difficulties, is still and will be a source of pride and joy.
Thus this work package focuses in the global celebration of mobile pastoralists through creative communication and awareness raising activities.