|The Improvement of Tropical and Subtropical Rangelands (BOSTID)|
Successful efforts in rangeland improvement are dependent on a thorough understanding of environmental context and the broad range of interactive social, economic, and political factors that affect project formulation and implementation. The most useful and socially responsible way to achieve this understanding is through the analysis of indigenous social adaptations to particular regions. The case studies in this book illustrate the adaptations to various settings in Africa and Asia.
The adaptations described in several of these case studies (specifically, 1, 2, 5, and 6) were characterized over 20 years ago and their use here should not be taken to indicate that they continue to be reasonable reflections of current local conditions. The evolution of range and pastureland systems of resource management in response to stress has been discussed in a companion study, Proceedings of the Conference on Common Property Resource Management (National Academy Press, 1986).
The first case study, "Pastoral Regimes of Mauritania," contrasts the adaptations of the Rigaibat Lqacem of the Saharan zone with those of the Ahel bou-Lobat and other groups associated with the Mauritanian Sahel. Case study 2, "The Beni Mguild Arabs of Morocco," illustrates a complex system of adaptations to a mountainous region dominated by winter precipitation. The third case study, "The Kel Tamasheq of Mali," explores the material culture and diet of the Oulliminden tribe of the Malian Sahel. Not only do these case studies underscore the logic of indigenous adaptations, but provide insight into the probable social and environmental consequences of inappropriately designed rangeland improvement projects in the regions described.
With few exceptions, the livestock projects undertaken by governments and international assistance agencies in tropical and subtropical regions have focused on cattle. In the highly degraded rangelands of the drier zones, however, other forms of livestock often enjoy a comparative advantage. In recent years, renewed interest has been expressed in the camel. Case study 4, "Dromedary Pastoralism in Africa and Asia," discusses camel husbandry and its potential contributions to modern economies. Case study 5, "The Mountain Nomads of Iran: Basseri and Bakhtiari," describes two largely sheepbased pastoral systems seasonally adapted to the Zagros mountains and their associated lowlands. Case study 6, "The Marri Baluch of Pakistan," describes a complex livelihood system that incorporates herding, agriculture, gathering, and wage labor. Case study 7, "Changing Patterns of Resource Use in the BedthiAghanashini Valleys of Karnataka State, India," describes the dynamic interactions among differing human communities, external forces, and the regional resource base in the Uttara Kannada district of the Western Ghats.
Many contemporary efforts in rangeland improvement and regional development are based in systematic environmental analysis and the complementarily of Western science and traditional knowledge. Case study 8, "Kenya: Seeking Remedies for Desert Encroachment," describes the approach taken in UNESCO's Integrated Project in Arid Lands in northern Kenya. Other contemporary efforts draw more heavily from the past. "The Hema System in the Arabian Peninsula," case study 9, describes the successful reintroduction of one of the world's oldest systems of rangeland management into the drylands of the Middle East.
Case study 10, "Wildlife Land Use at Athi River, Kenya," explores the possibility that the most ecologically sound and economically rewarding use of rangeland in many areas may be for wildlife ranching rather than for conventional livestock projects. Case study 11, "Camel Husbandry in Kenya: Increasing the Productivity of Ranchland," discusses the complementary integration of camel and cattle husbandry on four ranches in Kenya. Both papers reflect a trend toward greater innovation in land use. Case study 12, "The Potential of Faidherbia albida for Desertification Control and Increased Productivity in Chad," while focusing on the contributions of a single species, discusses ways of better integrating agriculture and animal husbandry in the African drylands. The final case study, "Improving Nigeria's Animal Feed Resources: Pastoralists and Scientists Cooperate in Fodder Bank Research," describes a modern approach to the creation of fodder reserves that is functionally similar to the ancient hema system described in the ninth case study.