Climate Change and Indigenous People: Perceptions of Transhumant Herders and Implications to the Transhumance System in the Himalayas (2014)

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Climate change poses differential vulnerability for different communities, sectors and regions. People, whose subsistence livelihood is based on the direct utilisation of natural resources are most affected by climate change and have different but accurate perceptions of climate change than those people following modern lifestyles. The herders of the higher Himalayas follow vertical transhumance and combine it with subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. Although, climate models have predicted pronounced warming in high altitude areas of the Himalayas and there are many indications that climate change impacts different aspects of transhumance, there is no information on how transhumant herders have perceived change in climate and how these changes might impact transhumance system. One hundred and forty five transhumant herders were interviewed from three Village Development Committees (VDCs) namely Khumjung in Solukhumbu, Kalinchok in Dolakhaand Majhigaun in Bajhang; representing Eastern, Central and far-Western mountainous areas of Nepal respectively to explore their perceptions about climate change and other observed changes in biophysical indicators. About 80% of the herders perceived increasing summer temperature, 92% decreasing winter rainfall and more than 93% noticed decreasing snowfall. Majority of the herders agreed that there was fast melting of snow in the rangelands, rainfall events were becoming more and more unpredictable, drought events increased, there was early induce in greenery and maturity of grasses in the rangelands and appearance of new livestock diseases. These observations suggest that transhumant herders in the Himalayas have experienced change in climatic variables and have noticed change in bio-physical indicators that have implications to the transhumance system. The findings help to devise adaptation strategies for indigenous communities and incorporate them in the climate change policies in the Himalayas.
Year: 2014
Language: English
In: Geology and Geosciences, 3 (4): 1-5 p.

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 Record created 2015-02-05, last modified 2015-02-05