Mina ESTEGHAMAT "Reviving Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in customary territories of Abolhassani mobile pastoralists, Iran"
Reviving Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) inCustomary Territories of Abolhassani Mobile Pastoralists, Iran—Coping with the Effects of Climate Change and Drought through Local Initiatives and Ecological Management Mina Esteqamat, Fatemeh A. Kamali, Khadija C. Razavi & the CENESTA Team: Maede Salimi, Nahid Naghizadeh, Abbas Didari, M. Taghi Farvar Union of Indigenous Nomadic Tribes of Iran (UNINOMAD) Center for Sustainable Development and Environment (CENESTA), Tehran, Iran
The Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA), with the main goalof empowerment of indigenous peoples and local communities fortaking into their hands their own livelihoods and conservation ofnatural resources, has been working for decades to promote sustainablecommunity- and culture-based development all over the vast country ofIran and in many other parts of the world.
Iranian nomads, throughout their history, have tried to deal with climate change byVertical Migration and Horizontal Migration in their territories.The situation is more difficult for the nomad’s communities living in arid and semi-aridareas who seem to be on the first line of vulnerability during the occurrence of droughtcrisis due to their dependence on nature.
As climate change impacts indigenous landscapes, communities are responding andadapting in unique ways and indigenous peoples of Iran are not the exception.Incorporating indigenous knowledge into climate change policies besides modernscientiﬁc knowledge can lead to the development of effective mitigation andadaptation strategies that are cost-effective, participatory, and sustainable.
Successive droughts in recent years coupled with improper Agriculturalpolicies, promotion of industrial systems instead of customary systems and small-scalelivestock farming have led to negative effects to the nomads livelihood and upwardpressure to natural resources such as overgrazing, land degradation and salinization ofwater resources.
Under the current situation the members of the Council of Elders in the AbolhassaniTribal confederacy (ICCA) with the cooperation of UNDP/GEF/SGP and facilitation ofCENESTA (Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment) conducted aparticipatory project to identify the effects of drought in mobile pastoralist’sterritories, assessment and analysis of applied initiatives and indigenous knowledge incoping with the drought and expansion of local initiatives to other tribal communities.
Indigenous & Community Conserved Territories & Areas (ICCAs) “…natural and modified ecosystems including significant biodiversity, ecological services and cultural values voluntarily conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities through customary laws or other effective means…”
The Abolhassani tribal confederacy of about 800 members lives in the north-easternmargin of the central desert of Iran, known as Khartouran, one of the nine Biospherereserves in the world. Despite being a dry area, the rich ecological and biodiversity valueof this tribal territory is outstanding.The Summering grounds of Abolhassani are located in the North East part of Touranbiosphere reserve. A part of their wintering ground is located in Touran region andanother part is on the margins of the Daruneh protected area.
A few of the 700 nomadic pastoral ICCAs/territories in Iran The schematic participatory map with the help of local community
The major source of livelihood and activity conducted by the Abolhassani people ispastoralism. Sheep, goat and camel are the main types of livestock they raise. Themanagement of rangelands is undertaken communally, and the council of elders ofcommunities still plays a crucial role in deciding when, where and which kind of animals areled to each pasture. The same applies to water resources; Qanats, springs and wells. In thesurroundings of the villages, agriculture (Rain-fed agriculture is the dominant practice) is alsobeing conducted, mainly barley and wheat, as well as gardening and fruit treecultivation, such as pomegranate.
Drought years have intensified recently due to the global climate change.Meanwhile the great drought of the year 2000 inflicted such heavy loss in livestock—thatalmost the entire tribal confederacy was forced out of the tribal territory. An estimated70% of livestock was lost or sold at a pittance to intermediaries; the current populationthat has returned is barely 40% of the pre-2000 level.The detrimental impacts of the frequent and longdrought periods in recent years include; decreasedlivestock and agricultural productions, watershortage, decreased fodder, moving sand dunesand loss of rangeland vegetation cover.
However, the small Abolhassani tribal confederacy has learnt to deal with this naturaldisaster by implementing some adaptation strategies through customary laws andpractices based on their indigenous knowledge.They gave innovative responses to this phenomenon by Water storage, reducing thenumber of livestock, lengthening the migration path, renting the farmlands residuesand using the agricultural by-products to feed the livestock, etc. The Abolhassani Tribal Confederacy –Copping with the Drought
In the recent project, the Abolhassani pastoralists highlighted the following factors asthe main causes of rangeland degradation: rainfall reduction; land reform;overgrazing; changes in livestock breeds; and finally conflicts among local people.
The local communities in the Study area had successfully achieved some level of sustainablelivelihoods by adapting the proper ways of livestock husbandry, farming and other income-earning activities.
Indigenous knowledge has been directly applied by Abolhassani people in climate changeand drought mitigation and adaptation through nomadism that is household and herdseasonal movement between summering and wintering quarters, customarily communalgrazing system that is based on the agreement between the elders of the tribe, to decidethe quantity of livestock, the type of livestock, and the time of grazing in each pastureland, reducing the number of ewes and increase the number of goats, as goats takemore benefit from desert pastures, ‘Boundless Grazing’ that is the herd grazing from Aprilto mid-May -45 days- regardless of pasture ownership.This traditional system provides several benefits:Distant or low water resources pastures are grazed in springs under favorable conditionsReduces conflicts between the tribesDelay in the grazing of the summering pastures to allow them to develop appropriately
The other strategies are;Maintaining the traditional practices and calendar of the seasonal migration of the herd,Lengthening the migration path and grazing in more distant pastures even into othercommunities’ territories if necessary,Renting the farmlands residues of other communities,Adoption of multipurpose crops and fruit trees –e.g. watermelons, cotton, pistachio, redpepper, sunflower, almond, pomegranate, etc., that are used as cash crops, livestock fodder andself-consumption,Selling a part of the herd to afford buying fodder for the remaining,Application of ‘closed pastures’ and Land resting to allow appropriate grassland developmentbefore grazing -this implies hiring a gamekeeper to protect the pastures,Maintaining the customary laws by the elderly council of sending some pioneers to measure theplant coverage of the migratory routes to assess the pasture conditions before the tribe move,Avoid the land use changes in the area,Decrease the size of the household and through migration to the cities in search of new sources oflivelihood,Reducing the number of livestock particularly sheep –ewes,Shifting towards the sheep and goat breeds which produce more milk and meat besides beingmore adaptive with difficult condition,Shift from pastoralism to agro-pastoralism with stall-fed sheep,Multi-species composition of herds,Expansion of rain-fed farming in rangelands,Shift from mobile systems to semi-mobile,Join in 3 or 4 herds together to pay less for shepherd and keep some of the livestock in the stallsThe sand dune stabilization plans and artificial windbreaks made of dried tree branches.
The indigenous people have developed several adaptation measures to cope with thewater shortage in the area and to reduce their vulnerability to climate change whichincludes;Digging of degraded wellsStorage of rain water in cisternsUse of mobile tankers to provide water to those pastures with no water available,Respect the traditional communal water resource management, e.g. distribute the accessto the water of Qanats among the neighbors in cycles of 12 daysFollow the pastoralist tradition of Henar, which implies watering the animals once everytwo days, generally from the end of fall to late winterPromote animals’ adaptation to lack of waterReducing the pressure on low carrying capacity grazing areas through nomadicpastoralists’ mobility and their movement from the dry areas to the wetter areas
The main achievements in dealing with drought crisis effects summarized in;developing the cycle of “coping with the drought” and establishing a revolvingfund (micro credits) to compensate the losses and provide sustainable livelihoods. Innovative Strategy of Abolhassani to Cope with Drought – “Coping with the Drought” cycle
Traditional Annual Cycle of Migratory LivestockPeriod A: Natural grazing cycle base on seasonal migration B: coping with the drought cycleSpring grazing 6 March- 22 May, Grazing livestock on rangelands in way stations;areas 23 May, separation of Lambs and kids from their mothers and their weaning 23 May- 22 September, Grazing livestock in summering grounds; 23 May- 22 September, milking livestock in summering grounds and preparation 5 June-22 August, separation ofSummering of dairy products; livestock for fattening from thegrounds 1 August, separation of rams from the herd and grazing them separately; herd and grazing them separately in 1 September: releasing the rams into the herd ewes for copulation; Fodder barley Stubble 6 September, releasing the he- goats into the herd of she- goats; 23 August- 6 November: GrazingAutumn 22 September- 6 Nov. Grazing livestock on Rangelands around the settlements of lambs and kids in pistachioGrazing lands Late October: sale of goat kids orchard weed and brush 6 Nov.- 6 Dec., grazing livestockWintering 22 October- 6 March, Grazing livestock on rangelands in desert; in Cotton field stubble;grounds late January, sale of lambs 6 Dec. - 6 Mar., grazing livestock 1 February- 10 February, Birth of lambs and kids in Fodder barley Stubble by underweight livestock.
Mitigation strategies of drought crisis summarized in five factors, namely as: Integratedwater resources management,Institutional capacity building,Targeted supporting,Systemic planning,Sustainable development of agricultural and livelihood systems.
Participatory Map & GIS and Participatory Video final boundary of Abolhasani territory on the google mapthe schematic participatory map with the help of local community Community mapping of ICCA (territory)
Recommendations:• The tribal peoples are the stewards of precious Indigenous knowledge and asource of livelihoods for future generations. This knowledge should be recorded by ourtribes for their own use and their rights to maintain their customary law, spiritual andmaterial ownership, access and benefit sharing, but above all the right to their territorialintegrity should be formally recognized;• ICCA communities should be supported to sustain their livelihoods throughpastoral activities and agriculture and gain additional income (e.g., through communityowned ecotourism, medicinal plants, handicrafts, etc.) including via their SustainableLivelihood Councils of nomadic tribes and their Sanduqs (community investment funds)• indigenous knowledge should be better researched, recognised and applied(respecting intellectual property rights of ICCAs and their collective governance);• In many of the mobile pastoralists’ territories 95% of medicinal plants have notbeen registered. These are priceless values and assets which should be restored andconserved through a legal process and not allowed to disappear or fall prey to externalprofit seeking agencies;
• Establishing a “Learning Group” on the governance and management of naturalresources. The learning group acts as a “Multi-Stakeholder Platform” whose participantsmust be selected from; Government agencies, University schools of natural resources/departments of range management, Department of the Environment, and schools of socialsciences, Civil Societies, Representatives/ spokespeople of indigenous nomadic tribes andof traditional communities;• Working sessions of the Councils of Elders that discuss in-depth issues of NRgovernance and management, often comparing their customary institutions of governanceand indigenous knowledge with modern ways that come out of academic and governmentinstitutions;• Nomads should have the right of commenting on/revising draft laws andregulations and Issuing their own verdicts through a series of declarations and statements;• Giving priority to indigenous and local communities organizations for theimplementation of government projects related to management of natural resources;
• Solving the problem of lack of collateral for loans;• Reduction of state governance and transferring rangeland management toindigenous and local communities;• Prohibiting the transfer of migratory routes and changing the land use ofnomadic rangelands;• Impact of country level policies (overall) on FRWO policies;• Following up article 44 of the constitution to delegate the rangelandmanagement to IPs and LCs;• Alliances should be promoted to review and reverse inappropriate policies andprograms for natural resource management, such as nationalization of naturalresources, top-down government projects on rangelands management and other failednational projects;• Support and facilitating should be offered to the creation of nationalFederations and Unions of camel herders, mobile pastoralists, forest peoples, small scaleproducers, fisher-folk and trappers in the county;
Presence of local community in official meetings
the Abolhassani peoples have, over the years, adapted to climatic extreme and managedtheir ICCAs successfully, more than any one during the decades, through theirindigenous knowledge therefore they must have the right to govern their ancestralterritory to make it survive for the futures.Although the modern knowledge isgradually recognizing the value ofindigenous knowledge systems, butyet, the value of indigenous knowledgein a wide range of studies includingclimate change has received littleattention.