Climate Change Impacts on Nomadic Herders
In 2009, Climate Frontlines issued a global call for proposals to carry out community-level investigations into climate change impacts and adaptation. The response was overwhelming. In this and upcoming postings, we feature the projects that were selected to be part of the global Climate Frontlines network. We begin with quotes from indigenous herders from Mongolia and Sweden, and then present the profiles of two selected projects that were submitted from these countries.
When I was a child I heard people talk of gan, when the silk embroidery rain happened. Maybe it’s the same now. I don’t know (. . .), but rain is different now. (Batamgarav, quoted in Marin 2010)
The reindeer grazes differently depending on the nature of the snow, the nature of the bottom - where the ice or the snow meets the ground, and then how much snow is present ... It is a real science. (Pavval, quoted in Roturier and Roué 2009)
Traditional knowledge for adaptation to climate change: Promoting traditional practices to respond to land degradation and desertification in Mongolia
Community - Bulgan aimag and Uvurkhangai aimag, Mongolia, Central Asia
Climatic variability appears to be a major driving factor of livestock dynamics in Mongolia. The rising temperature and uncertainties in rainfall associated with global warming are likely to increase the frequency and magnitude of climate variability and extremes. Changes in climate increase the risk of unexpected changes in the natural environment. The greater the rate and magnitude of change, the greater the risk of negative impacts. In response, the nomadic herders of the Central Region of Mongolia have developed their own specific knowledge and practices for adaptation to protect soil and combat pasture degradation and desertification. These include seasonal migration, long distance migration, herding of different kinds of livestock, and taboos and rituals that preserve different resources. The research proposed by the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations focuses on the Bulgan and Uvurkhangai aimags, areas of open steppe landscape and the water source for the longest river in Mongolia. It seeks to understand traditional knowledge and practices in relation to land degradation and desertification, so as to promote sustainable livelihoods amongst rural peoples of the Central Region of Mongolia.
Climate change impacts on Sami reindeer herding
Community - Sami of Laponia World Heritage Site, Sweden, Europe
The project involves collaborative research between the National Museum of Natural History (France) and Sami reindeer herders who are experiencing increasingly severe winter conditions. Reindeer feed primarily on lichens in the winter, which they access by digging through the snow. Changing weather patterns now often result in a crust of hard ice forming over lichen pastures that prevents reindeer from grazing. Sami have sophisticated knowledge of the changing conditions of snow and ice, and the consequences for their herds. They are trying to adapt in several ways, including adjusting seasonal land use patterns and providing artificial food. The latter brings its own challenges including high costs and labour. The research will contribute to our understanding of the strengths and limitations of different coping strategies, as well as the cumulative effects of climate change and other impacts on the livelihoods of Sami reindeer herders.
We encourage you to send us any questions or comments, and to share experiences and observations from your own community or territory. Please note, however, that we currently cannot fund any additional projects and we are unable to respond to unsolicited funding requests.
Marin, A. (2010), Riders under storms: Contributions of nomadic herders’ observations to analyzing climate change in Mongolia, Global Environmental Change, 20, 162-176.
Roturier, S. and Roué, M. (2009), Of forest, snow and lichen: Sa´mi reindeer herders' knowledge of winter pastures in northern Sweden, Forest Ecology and Management 258: 1960-1967.