Should we blame livestock for climate change?

Livestock are essential to rural economies and livelihoods across the world. But are these animals contributing to planetary destruction through greenhouse gas emissions? Estimates suggest that 14.5% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions are from livestock, and nearly all of this is from grazing ruminants. But what to do about it? This is a big debate,…

Sheep in a field in Wales, Photo: Andrew Hill

Wilderness for whom? Negotiating the role of livestock in landscapes

Livestock keeping is seen by some as a scourge on ‘natural’ landscapes, creating devastation through grazing and browsing. Reversion to some form of idealised ‘wilderness’ is seen as the solution, with value created through improved aesthetics, tourism and enhanced ecosystem services.This has been a focus by the ‘re-wilding’ debate. This takes on many forms, but…

Herders and their livestock. Photo: Matteo Caravani

The vegan craze: what does it mean for pastoralists?

by Ian Scoones There’s a vegan craze in full swing in Brighton in the UK – and it seems more broadly. There was a vegan festival near my house the other weekend, and vegan graffiti (in washable chalk, I hasten to add) appears frequently in our local park. My daughter became a vegan for a…

Why killing reindeer is poor science

The Norwegian state has ordered Sami reindeer owners to reduce the size of their herds to the ‘carrying capacity’ deemed acceptable by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, arguing that high stocking rates detrimentally affect the fragile tundra ecosystem. Herder Jovvset Ánte Sara has been battling the state in the courts, resisting the requirement to reduce his…

The many futures of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa

A 2016 article by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones – The futures of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa: pathways of growth and change – outlines the different pathways of change emerging in the Horn of Africa. It is published in the Revue scientifique et technique (International Office of Epizootics) and is part of a special issue edited by…

Pastoralism is changing in the Horn of Africa

A few weeks back, Ian Scoones, representing the PASTRES project, joined Andy Catley and Peter Little in a webinar organised by the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, and chaired by Greg Gottlieb, the Center’s director. The one-hour webinar, aimed at policymakers, donors and field practitioners, can be listened to again here. It gets going about 6 minutes…

Herder with a flock of sheep in a dryland landscape, with sun setting behind mountains in the background

Pastoralism, uncertainty, resilience: introducing the PASTRES project

by Ian Scoones and Michele Nori, PASTRES project This month we are launching a new European Research Council funded project, Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Global Lessons from the Margins (PASTRES) led by Ian Scoones (director of the STEPS Centre) and Michele Nori at EUI, Florence. We are asking: What lessons can we learn for global…

A Kharai camel stands with factory chimney stacks behind it on the horizon.

Livelihoods on the edge: contested mangroves in Kachchh

There is a real buzz about Mundra village on the Gulf of Kachchh coast, one of the fastest growing industrial hubs in India. A sprawling port, two of India’s biggest thermal power plants, and a special economic zone with growing export industries jostle for space in what once used to be western India’s biggest stretch…

Dryland landscape with trees, people and animals

Why we should stop talking about ‘desertification’

A great new book has just been published called ‘The End of Desertification? Disputing Environmental Change in the Drylands’, available at a shocking price from Springer. It is edited by two people who know a thing or two about these issues – Roy Behnke and Mike Mortimore – and it has 20 top quality chapters…

Cattle market in Kenya

How was a ‘policy space’ created for pastoralism in Kenya?

Pastoralism in Kenya has long been neglected and understood. Pastoralists have been seen by some as vulnerable, a source of conflict and a drain on the country’s resources. But recent developments have begun to change that narrative. A new government Ministry, the Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, was formed in…