Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Indigenous livestock breeds and livelihoods in marginal areas

From ‘destroyers of the environment’ to custodians of biodiversity: How can pastoralists change their image?

Organiser: Ilse Koehler-Rollefson

In Europe, pastoralism is now acknowledged as essential for conserving biodiversity and retaining the attraction of cultural landscapes. But in many other countries, pastoralists are still seen as inimical to nature conservation and within major international frameworks, such as the UNCCD, they are held responsible for causing overgrazing and desertification. How can we change these outdated opinions? How can pastoralists in developing countries achieve recognition for their role in conserving breeds an agro-ecosystems? What can we learn from the European experience? How would institutional set ups and policy frameworks have to change to harness the potential of mobile livestock keeping for nature conservation? How can scientists support pastoralists and their advocacy efforts?
The purpose of the workshop is to arrive at a strategy for changing the image of pastoralism among major policy-makers and to develop ideas for mechanisms that would support and strengthen the official role of pastoralists in conservation.

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Background Papers and further reading

Statement by pastoralists and support organizations attending the ninth meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity
19 May 2008 Bonn, Germany
Pastoralism is a way of life that protects biodiversity, including livestock breeds, landscapes, ecological systems, wild flora and fauna. It is a valid and sustainable form of land use. Common land tenure is crucial for the efficient functioning of pastoralism.

Keepers of Genes. The interdependence between pastoralists, breeds, access to the commons, and livelihoods
Ilse Köhler-Rollefson and the LIFE Network, Sadri, Rajasthan, India, 2007
The animal breeds have evolved over centuries within specific ecological and social systems. Subject to strong natural selection pressure, they retain many of the behavioural traits of their wild ancestors, and it is these behavioural patterns that enable them to optimally use their environments. Representing the collective heritage of the communities they are associated with, these breeds cannot be conserved separately from their production systems: they will survive only as long as the knowledge systems in which they are embedded also survive.

Indigenous livestock breeds and  livelihoods in marginal areasLes races d’élevage indigènes et les moyens de subsistance dans les zones marginalesIndigene Viehrassen und Existenzgrundlagen in RandgebietenGanadería indígena y formas de vida en áreas marginales

Local Organising Committee