Hamid Reza Naseri, Reza Shakeri, Shahram Yousefi Khanghah:
Impact of Rangeland Degradation on the Pastoral Production Systems and Livelihoods of the Zanjan Pastoralists in Iran


1University of Tehran, International Reseach Center of Desert, Iran
2Behbahan High Education Complex, Department of Environment Sciences, Iran

Arid and semi-arid rangelands that serve as the resource basis for the livestock production system known as the pastoral production system in Iran are under enormous threat. Unsustainable production is an inevitable consequence which, in turn, causes declining trends in rangelands, transformation of good rangelands into poor ones and of the latter into non"=productive lands. Zanjan province (Iran) with an area of 36,400 km2 has a mostly rural, population of 964,601. There are over 12 920 km2 of rangeland in Zanjan representing some of the most ecologically diverse areas within the province.

A survey was conducted in two pastoral areas (districts; Mahneshan and Tarom) in the North and South zone of Zanjan region with the aims of assessing the status and trends of rangeland degradation, and understanding the impact on livelihoods and perceptions of the pastoralists over a 30 year period (1979-2009). According to population four villages in Mahneshan and two villages in Tarom, 65 households per village and one elder pastoralist (60-75 years old) per household were randomly selected. The elders were interviewed by using of questionnaires and open discussions. Additional Data were collected from Natural Resources office in capital of province and current rangeland conditions were calculated by modified four factor method. The results revealed that drought, aridity and rangeland degradation have increased over time due to environmental degradation and mismanagement of rangeland resources.

Changes in vegetation ecology have drastically (p < 0.05) altered the livestock productions and consequently households income was decreased dramatically. Poor and very poor rangelands couldn't support pastoralist systems and livestock production didn't provide sufficient income for food, house and education especially for new generation and many younger peoples leaves their occupation in village and immigrated to Zanjan city. These results show that poverty has increased over time. Traditional coping mechanisms are reported to be failing due to increasing environmental and rangeland degradation and lack of national policies to minimise or solve the problems. These findings offer a new perspective for communal rangeland management research, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas.

Keywords: Livestock, mismanagement, pastoral, rangeland, Zanjan


Contact Address: Hamid Reza Naseri, University of Tehran, International Reseach Center of DesertKeshavarz Bld, ghods st,Shahed Alley, Number 37, Tehran, Iran, e-mail: hrnaseri@ut.ac.ir
Andreas Deininger, October 2010