CASI-IFEAC Lecture series (Dec. 2, 2013) : Pasture management in Kyrgyzstan: legal and environmental concerns


The lecture will consist of two presentations.

First, Simon Charré will explore how pasture degradation and consecutive impacts on livelihood have become a major concern in the last decade in Central Asia. On both high mountain and steppe rangelands, overgrazing by semi-nomad herders is widespread throughout the region. Current regulatory frameworks, either inherited from the Soviet period or more recently driven through international programs, are still mostly command-and-control based and enforced by central governments. This top-down approach makes these mechanisms rigid and hardly adaptable to particular local situations, for instance to address land degradation issues. Along with pasture degradation, ecosystem services flows decrease accordingly: lower productivity, losses of biodiversity, higher prevalence of natural hazards, decreased capacities of the ecosystem to provide clean and steady water, etc. Often, such reduction of ecosystem services flows due to unsustainable management of upstream pastures by semi-nomadic communities has a direct impact on downstream settled communities which leads to recurrent conflicts. This underlines the complexity and diversity of issues agro-pastoral communities can be faced with, in relation with current systems of pasture management.

Yet, economic mechanisms incentivizing for a sustainable use of pastoral resources have been set aside and are fairly under developed in Central Asia. However, the ecosystem approach argues for the development of incentive based mechanisms aimed at supporting pasture user communities thanks to a payment transfer operated from ecosystem services beneficiaries to ecosystem services providers. In this context, Simon Charré proposes to explore the opportunities of using incentive based economic tools  to create a bound between upstream semi-nomadic communities and downstream settled ones toward a sound pasture management in Central Asia.

Irène Mestre will then present her work on the Law on Pasture passed in 2009 in Kyrgyzstan, which affects the coordination of agricultural and pastoral activities at municipality level. This law abolished the previous regulation inherited from Soviet Union which was highly centralized and introduced pasture users associations at the municipality level (ayil okmotu). Members elect the executive body of this association, called Pasture Committee (Zhayt komitteti).

According to the law, all livestock owners domiciled in one municipality are members of the pasture users association and can take part in the decisions or actions related to pasture management. The pasture committee brings together stakeholders who have different involvements in agricultural and livestock activities. Given the fact that after the end of Soviet Union all households received agricultural land and livestock, they developed these two activities differently according to their own strategies. As a result, in the villages coexist:

  • Owners of large flocks who usually take livestock from other herders and go to remote summer pasture from May to October. They are therefore absent during the working period in the fields and have to buy winter fodder or to hire workers to cultivate their land, as winter fodder is essential in their activities.
  • Owners of medium flocks mainly stay in the villages and give their animals to herders going to summer pastures. Even if their incomes are balanced between livestock and crop or fodder cultivation, they are more aware of issues related to agriculture. Households with less agricultural land work as herders during summer time.
  • They are rare families without livestock, they invest all their resources in agriculture and aim at buying animals to have diverse incomes and be less vulnerable.

Thus, villages are virtually divided in two categories. Members of the first group consider themselves more as cultivators while members of the second one as herders. This distinction plays a big role when pastoralists and cultivators compete for the same land. However, this division is potentially overcome by the new law which considers all livestock owners at the same level, without distinction in their resources.

The author investigates how the access of the cultivators to pasture management decision-making processes leads to new agreements on resources sharing between cultivators and pastoralists at municipality level.


Simon Charré graduated in agricultural development and economic policies from Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. He previously studied environmental sciences with a focus on management of natural resources. His studies brought him to Scotland, Canada and Kazakhstan where consecutive internships involved him in managing strictly protected areas and developing economic mechanisms for sustainable use of natural resources. After university he joined the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia where he acts as a project manager in the Environmental Management Program. His focus is on developing cooperation mechanisms between users of natural resources. It includes the development of economic mechanisms such as Reward for Ecosystem Services but also of non-monetary mechanisms aimed at building cooperation between communities towards sustainable use of natural resources.

Irène Mestre completed a degree in Rural Geography at the University Jean Moulin-Lyon 3 and a Masters degree in Political Science at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During her studies she conducted field research in Siberia and Kazakhstan to analyse interactions between societies and nature. Her research is now focused on pastoralism in Naryn region, in Kyrgyzstan. In the frame of a PhD in Geography, she questions how community-based pasture management impacts herders’ adaptation capacities at individual and collective levels. She is an IFEAC visiting fellow.


American University of Central Asia
205 Abdymonmunov, Bishkek
Monday 2 December, 3:30 pm
Room 315


OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
ifeac (28 novembre 2013). CASI-IFEAC Lecture series (Dec. 2, 2013) : Pasture management in Kyrgyzstan: legal and environmental concerns. IFEAC. Consulté le 18 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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