Research: nomadic herders

Impacts of nomadic grazing patterns
Researchers: Dr. Clyde Goulden

During the five years of the GEF project, a social anthropologist met two or three times each summer with each of the herder families around Lake Hövsgöl and our work expands this effort. We are continuing to monitor nomad movements, livestock numbers and behavior, and interview families about their livelihoods. Forty to fifty families migrate throughout the valleys on the east side of Lake Hövsgöl, moving their livestock herds to the lower valleys near the lake during the summer, and then moving up the valleys into the warmer (due to thermal inversions) mountainous watershed in the colder months.

Herder interviews consist of obtaining information about numbers and type of livestock, timing and location of seasonal movements throughout the ILTER research valleys, and understanding expenditures and income from selling products. A rider follows one herd's movements each day - tracking with GPS, defining the speed and width of grazing herd, and estimate the total area covered each day. Each herd is followed for a minimum of three days per summer.

Because of evidence that the combined effects of nomadic pastoralism and climate change have had a substantial impact on plant cover and productivity, causing degradation of pastures for the nomad's livestock, one goal is to encourage the herders to develop sustainable practices in the context of climate change. As part of this effort, the GEF project published a "Herder Handbook" in Mongolian to inform herders of northern Mongolia of these problems (English version). Our questionnaires follow up on the effectiveness of the Herder Handbook in encouraging sustainable practices.

Other PIRE Mongolia Research Projects