"The nomadism/pastoralism debate has always been closely connected to discourses about modernization theories whenever development issues were at stake. While the mainstream debates have changed since stage models apparently became outdated, it is surprising that the Chinese development model seems to adhere to classical modernization theory. Consequently, it appears worthwhile to consider present challenges in the pastoral sector first from the Chinese perspective and, second, in comparison with the situation in neighbouring countries.

The discussion reveals that the Chinese model is quite different from neighbouring countries' practices and is embedded in an authoritarian approach that suggests similarities with the implementation of a development model during the collectivization phases in the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, when Stalinist- and Mao Zedong-inspired models were implemented under autonomy and sedentarization regimes. Nevertheless, the present context is quite different because ecological degradation of pastures and the non-existent closure of the development gap between affluent urbanites and remote farmers and pastoralists have been addressed by implementing the present resettlement programmes.

In China's pastoralism regions, the tragedy of responsibility is related to top-down approaches without adequate participation of stakeholders. In neighbouring countries, pastoralists tend to complain about negligence by state authorities, non-binding regulations and arbitrariness by powerful actors. Countries such as India and Pakistan are still reworking their colonial legacies and trying to adapt pasture legislation to the demands of rangeland management and nature protection."


Defining pastoralism

Pastoralism is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. "Pastoralism" generally has a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and water (in contrast to pastoral farming, in which non-nomadic farmers grow crops and improve pastures for their livestock).
Pastoralism is a successful strategy to support a population on less productive land, and adapts well to the environment. For example, in savannas, pastoralists and their animals gather when rain water is abundant and the pasture is rich, then scatter during the drying of the savanna.[1]
Pastoralists often use their herds to affect their environment. Grazing herds on savannas can ensure the biodiversity of the savannas and prevent them from evolving into scrubland. Pastoralists may also use fire to make ecosystems more suitable for their food animals. For instance, the Turkana people of northwest Kenya use fire to prevent the invasion of the savanna by woody plant species. Biomass of the domesticated and wild animals was increased by a higher quality of grass.

Pastoralism is found in many variations throughout the world. Composition of herds, management practices, social organization and all other aspects of pastoralism vary between areas and between social groups. Many traditional practices have also had to adapt to the changing circumstance of the modern world, including climatic conditions affecting the availability of grasses. Ranches of the United States and sheep stations and cattle stations of Australia are seen by some as modern variations.


Preserving pastoralism- Chalk Downland

History in the United Kingdom
Traditionally, chalk grasslands have been managed by sheep grazing. You can see track-ways eroded into the hillsides that provide evidence of the routes taken by animals over many decades.Lowland chalk grassland is confined to the North and South Downs in southern England, from Kent through to Wiltshire and Dorset, with most remaining areas found on escarpments and dry valley slopes.

The harsh environmental conditions found on chalk include summer heat and drought, winter frosts and poor soil nutrient status. Together with regular grazing, these prevent any individual species from reaching its full potential. The result is a very diverse habitat where no single species can out-compete the others.

Habitat for wildlife
Ancient chalk grassland, which has not been improved by the addition of artificial fertiliser, can be incredibly rich in plant life, supporting up to 40 species per square metre. Plants include cowslip (Primula verris), kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), quaking grass (Briza media) and sheep's fescue (Festuca rubra) as well as many species of orchid. These include fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea), bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) and the pink pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).

Chalk grasslands are rich in insect life, including a number of butterflies and moths associated solely with this habitat. A walk in summer will see the grassland alive with the iridescent blue of an Adonis blue and the brown and orange of the gatekeeper butterflies. The sound of a number of different cricket and grasshopper species can be heard during the summer months.

Habitat Loss
As with meadows and traditional pastures, the extent and quality of chalk grassland has declined since the 1940s as more intensive methods of agriculture have been used. Large areas of chalk grassland have also been lost because of urban development and extensive road building, especially in the south east. There are no precise figures but surveys of a sample of chalk grasslands showed a loss of 20% between 1966 and 1980. Chalk grassland has also suffered from lack of grazing which alters the composition of the grassland and can allow scrub to take over. Over-grazing can also be a problem.

Managing chalk grassland
Traditionally, chalk grasslands have been managed by sheep grazing. Sheep are the ideal animals to manage chalk grasslands since they graze the sward between the flower stalks leaving the nectar sources for the insects and the seeds for future years. Some of the remaining chalk grassland sites are now under conservation management. Scrub has been cut back and grazing management restored.

Preserving pastoralism: Welsh uplands

Recemt research has tended to refine the traditional view of the medieval economy of North Wales as being one which was dominated by pastoralism in an overwhelmingly free social context. 1 In some localities it has been possible to clarify broad regional contrasts and elucidate variations occurring within them, chiefly as a result of the discovery of evidence in place names and field patterns of share-land cultivation and the calculation of the relative importance of the produce of pastoralism and tillage in the various administrative units for which there are early taxation records. For example, it is clear that the fertile and sheltered lowlands of Anglesey and the Lleyn coast acted as a granary for the incipient Welsh state, ~ while the vaccaries and upland grazings of the rugged interior of Caernarvon and Merioneth supported considerable numbers of livestock, some of which found their way to the border markets such as Whitchurch, thus establishing in a rudimentary form the drovers' routes which became well travelled in later centuries.

The Aberwesyn Commons Project

Abergwesyn is a village in the Welsh county of Powys, in mid-Wales, at the start of the Abergwesyn valley and the confluence of the Arvon Irfon and the Afon Gwesyn and is 52 miles (83km) from Cardiff and 158 miles (254km) from London. Abergwesyn Commons (16,500 acres (6,700 ha)) stretch for 12 miles between the Nant Irfon valley and Llanwrthwl. They are rich in archaeology, including Bronze Age ritual sites and deserted medieval villages. A National Trust project is focused on the preservation of the peatland.

European context

"In November (2011), 4 Welsh Hill farmers, 1 FWAG officer, 1 National Trust member of staff, and two people representing the European Forum for Nature Conservation and Pastoralism visited the Asturias region and the Basque Country in North Spain. This was done as part of the ‘Abergwesyn Commons project’ in order to help build stronger relations with the commons graziers as well as to help expand knowledge and perhaps learn from how other farmers use common land in another part of the European Union.

The study tour proved to be extremely informative and interesting. The following is an extract from the visit report:
'We learnt a great deal as well as seeing how Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being implemented elsewhere in Europe. The Spanish shared many of the struggles that we have in Wales and it highlighted how parts of CAP are simply not compatible with upland agriculture in both Wales and Spain. For example, the removal of dead-stock from the hills and mountains serves more as a hindrance to the dynamics of the natural processes in the countryside.

We visited summer farms that still are a way of life in Asturius. This system of died out nearly 100 years ago in the UK and perhaps saw the start of the decline in upland farming in Britain. In the areas we visited it was felt that this way of life would die out over the next 10 years. However, in these regions there was a genuine recognition of the importance of the shepherds in the role they played in preserving significant upland habitats. It was acknowledged that without them many of the habitats would be lost and are being lost. With the rapidly decreasing stock numbers on the hills there have been increasing problems with wildfires that are progressively increasing in size as the mountains become rank with uncontrolled vegetation. As in Spain, Wildfire has become an increasing problem on Abergwesyn Commons as stock numbers have decreased dramatically and there is no balance in vegetation created through mixed grazing.

It should be considered that there may not be too many of one particular animal on the hills, cattle in Spain, sheep in Wales, but perhaps not enough of other grazing animals to graze along side what is already there. Balanced grazing would help open up more grazing and help create a more diverse habitat. Unfortunately there are mechanisms that have led to the imbalance of grazing, wolves in Spain, logistics in Wales, both being just part of the problem in their respective countries. These issues need to be addressed in a practical way. In Spain they are addressing the problems through supporting close shepherding on summer farms but with this way of life appearing to be dying out it will be interesting to see what they do in the future. At least there is real recognition of the importance of these shepherds for maintaining the uplands of Spain for the positive conservation of habitats and wildlife."

- See more at: http://www.foundationforcommonland.org.uk/news/2-welsh-commoners-visit-to-spain#sthash.M565i2PL.dpuf

Preserving Pastoralism: The English Uplands

The English uplands are characterised by open landscapes of moorland peaks and pastoral farmed valleys with small woods and a very low proportion of cultivated land. Just over three-quarters of the uplands in England are designated landscapes: either National Parks (NPs), classed as category V protected areas using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition, or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), a national protected landscapes designation. With steep slopes, poor soils and a short growing season compared to lowland England, these are marginal farming areas, traditionally managed for the extensive, grass-based production of sheep, beef and some dairy farming, and their designation as European Union (EU) Less Favoured Areas (LFA) reflects this. They are areas of great significance for biodiversity – most of the higher land is classified as Natura 2000 sites, or the near-equivalent national designation of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A long history of enclosure has left important features in the landscape, notably systems of field boundaries across the lower slopes and in the valleys, while the moorland itself remains largely undivided and much of it is registered shared (or ‘common’) grazing. Many English upland landscapes also contain valuable archaeological remains because unlike other parcels of land, the soil here has remained undisturbed. All these elements coalesce to produce some of the most valued cultural landscapes in England, with a similar pattern across the upland areas of northern Europe.