Indigenous Nomadic Tribes

Facilitating sustainability of biodiversity and livelihoods for mobile pastoralist communities in Iran– a learning by doing project.

Pastoral nomadic peoples have traditionally excelled in the production of livestock and non-timber products from woodlands and rangelands while not only conserving but also improving rangeland ecosystems and biological diversity.

The mobility of pastoralists and their herds is necessary for the care of the rangelands. The herds stomp the soil, transport seeds of wild species, and fertilise the land. Nomadic pastoralists have learned to conserve rangelands through sophisticated techniques embedded in cultural institutions.

Today, as their communities shift to sedentary lifestyles these ecosystems are submitting to the advancement of the desert. This is shift is rooted in colonial and imported models of development which have been espoused by contemporary governments and development agencies and have caused a degradation of both the culture and the environment. These models have failed to recognise that mobility is central to nomadic culture and to the methods of natural resource use and management they have developed.

An awakening of interest in the institution of seasonal migration by nomadic pastoralists has led to this project to support migratory pastoralists by the Iranian Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA) with the support of IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP, hosted by CENESTA). The project aims to empower migratory nomadic pastoral communities to identify the most appropriate models for sustaining livelihoods and agro-biodiversity.