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UCA Mountain Societies Research Centre Co-Hosts International Events: International Symposium on Pastoralism in Central Asia & World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Events


Please also see: Newsletter in Russian and Video on UCA

His Excellency Torogul Bekov, Minister of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic ( centre)   opening the International symposium at Ak Keme hotel, Bishkek. Photo: UCAHis Excellency Torogul Bekov, Minister of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic ( centre) opening the International symposium at Ak Keme hotel, Bishkek. Photo: UCAInternational Symposium on Pastoralism in Central Asia

The Mountain Societies Research Centre (MSRC) of the University of Central Asia (UCA) and the National Centre of Competence in Research North-South (NCCR North-South) co-hosted an International Symposium on Pastoralism in Central Asia: Status, Challenges and Opportunities in Mountain Areas, 13-18 June 2011 in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The Symposium was co-sponsored by Mountain Partnership, which is hosted at UCA, and GIZ. His Excellency Torogul Bekov, Minister of Agriculture of the Kyrgyz Republic opened the Symposium and highlighted the importance of pastoralism in the development of mountain societies, as well as regional cooperation and Ministry initiatives to promote environmentally-friendly practices. During his remarks, UCA Director General Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, announced the establishment of the MSRC, which is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the resilience and quality of life of mountain societies through sound research on sustainable mountain development and management of their physical, social, economic and cultural assets.

The Symposium was attended by 140 participants from over 20 countries and different sectors, including herders and rural inhabitants; scientists and academics; policy makers and government representatives; development practitioners and NGO representatives; and media representatives. Pastoralism is a traditional primary source of livelihoods in mountain areas of Central Asia and pastoralists, particularly in fragile mountain environments of the region, face dynamic challenges that require innovative and adaptive solutions. Symposium participants sought to create a deeper understanding of these complex issues and identify measures to positively inform policy and programmes.

The keynote presentation by Dr. Carol Kerven from the Odessa Centre (UK), provided an overview of mountain agro-pastoralism in Central Asia, based on a review paper commissioned by the MSRC, with recommendations for future directions for research in this area to address knowledge gaps and inform policy and practice. Other presentations included Pasture Reform in Kyrgyzstan: Problems and Solutions by Dr. Egemberdiev, Director of Kyrgyz Pasture Department; Development Policy and Practice regarding Mobile Pastoralists in Africa by Professor Leif Manger, University of Bergen, Norway; Theories, Management Practices and Policies by Dr. Yi Shaoliang of the Aga Khan Foundation, Afghanistan; and information about the Aiyl Demi Newspaper by Ms. Elbegzaya Batjargal and Ms. Jyldyz Mukhametsalieva of the Central Asian Hub of Mountain Partnership, which is hosted by UCA. Scientific thematic sessions were conducted on issues ranging from Historical and Contemporary Challenges of Agro-pastoral Production to Development Interventions and Central Asian Pastoral Committees. In a special session, UCA Research Fellows Dr.Inam-ur Rahim and Dr. Daniel Maselli presented the MSRC/NCCR North-South Herders’ Manual, which blends traditional and scientific knowledge to provide simple, effective tools for improving animal and pasture productivity in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. “The Herders’ Manual has been developed with input from the community and local experts using participatory methods and is designed to support herders, livestock owners, village pasture committees and respective authorities in pasture management and monitoring to improve their understanding and knowledge about sustainable pasture and livestock management,” said Mira Arynova, Coordinator of the Central Asian Regional Office of NCCR North-South, which is hosted at UCA. Participants also participated in a field excursion to Chui and Naryn districts, where they met with herders to learn about current pasture use and management, and the impact of policies and initiatives, such as local pasture user committees.

World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Share Fair on Sharing Sustainable Land Management Knowledge to Respond to Global and Local Issues, and the 15th Annual WOCAT Workshop and Steering Meeting
The World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Share Fair on Sharing Sustainable Land Management Knowledge to Respond to Global and Local Issues, and the 15th Annual WOCAT Workshop and Steering Meeting, took place from 21-27 June 2011 in the Kyrgyz Republic. The events were jointly hosted by UCA’s MSRC and partners, the NCCR North-South and the global WOCAT management (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern; Food and Agriculture Organization; and the International Soil Reference and Information Centre) and secretariat. “UCA’s recently-launched Mountain Societies Research Centre (MSRC) is proud to co-host these events. The MSRC aims to support and enhance the resilience and quality of life of mountain societies through sound research on sustainable mountain development and management of their physical, social, economic and cultural assets. Partnerships with platforms such as WOCAT are critical to the success of these initiatives,” said Dr. Nasreen Dhanani, Deputy Director of UCA.

WOCAT is a global network of Soil and Water Conservation specialists, contributing to sustainable land management. The events brought together 100 participants from 25 countries to create synergies, strengthen collaboration and harmonize activities between different stakeholders, and address climate change adaptation and mitigation, pasture and grazing land management, and new WOCAT modules. The WOCAT Share Fair took place in Bishkek, bringing together over 50 organizations to share information on sustainable land management projects. This was followed by the 15th Annual WOCAT Workshop and Steering Meeting in Naryn district, in which plenary and working group sessions assessed WOCAT progress to-date and plans for future activities. Field visits to Tolok and the surrounding areas of Naryn and Jergetal were also organized. The event led to the identification of priority actions that could be undertaken by WOCAT members, institutions and governments in Central Asia to capitalize on the potential benefits of integrated sustainable land management and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in dryland grazing systems.

For more information on these events, please contact: msrc@ucentralasia.org

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