22, March, 2016

Global Review of the Economics of Pastoralism

The review of the literature on pastoralist economics is a contribution to the global learning on the importance of mobile pastoralism as a form of productive and sustainable land management. The review is intended to highlight existing knowledge on the value of pastoralism, the gaps in this knowledge, trends in pastoral economies and policy options that can support drylands economies most effectively.

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Pastoralism is an adaptation to marginal environments, characterized by climatic uncertainty and low-grade resources. It has considerable economic value and latent potential in the drylands, and is central to the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of the worlds poor, but the state of knowledge regarding this sector of the economy is weak. Pastoralism is not something to be tolerated until a ‘modern’ alternative can be found to replace it: it is a sophisticated system of production and land management that has itself been modernized in many countries, and is irreplaceable in extensive environments. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many policy makers consider pastoralism to be archaic and economically irrational, and in need of modernisation or replacement. Such conclusions are based on a narrow view of what constitutes value in pastoral systems. The policies that emanate from this thinking continue to devalue pastoralism, often at significant cost to national economies and to the natural environment. This review has two broad objectives: reviewing the state of knowledge on pastoral economics around the world and; using a framework for Total Economic Valuation to identify important knowledge gaps. Using the findings, the report discusses trends in pastoral economies and policy options that can support drylands economies more effectively.
  • Author(s): Richard Hatfield and Jonathan Davies
  • Original Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
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