Sustainable pasture management for improving grassland ecosystems and livelihoods of pastoralists in Tajikistan

1. What is this land use practice about?
The Republic of Tajikistan is the smallest landlocked country in Central Asia. Mountains cover more than 90 percent of the country. With a total area of pasture of 3.9 million hectares, alpine ecosystems thus constitute 80 percent of the country’s agricultural land, which is used heavily for livestock husbandry. Most of the livestock is privately owned, awhile approximately 96 percent of products, including dairy, are produced by private farmers. Only a few farms use modern technology.
Due to land degradation and overgrazing, the area for pasture has decreased since independence. Yet, the livestock numbers have increased from 4.5 million head in 2005 to about 7.4 million head in 2014. This increase of over 65 percent is the main driver of overgrazing. Pastures play a major role in economic development and in reducing poverty in rural Tajikistan. However, the degradation of pastures is posing an increasing threat to rural livelihoods. It is also threatening the important biodiversity of adjacent ecosystems, with restoration being nearly impossible and becoming more and more expensive.

2. Cornerstones of the Sustainable Pasture Management
Many different projects and donor-funded initiatives are continuously contributing to the identification of solutions and supporting efforts to rehabilitate degraded pastures. At a 2013 meeting of practitioners and experts working in the field of pasture management on the occasion of the approval of the first Tajik legislation on the issue – entitled, ‘On Pasture’ – it was noted that there is weak or inconsistent networking and coordination among pastoralist organisations and knowledge exchange among related stakeholders, as well as a lack of synergies in activities and weak legislative framework.
The approval of new legislation marked the starting point for GIZ’s work on pasture management.

The most important ‘cornerstones’ regarding the land use practice ‘pasture management’, are the
• Pasture Governance
• Pasture Management Techniques