Sustainable pasture management for improving grassland ecosystems and livelihoods of pastoralists

Published: 22 November 2019
Last edited: 06 February 2023
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The Republic of Tajikistan is the smallest landlocked country in Central Asia.  With a total area of pasture of 3.9 million hectares, alpine ecosystems constitute 80% of the country’s agricultural land, which is used heavily for livestock husbandry. Pastures play a major role in economic development and in reducing poverty in rural Tajikistan. However, the degradation of pastures is posing an increasing threat to rural livelihoods. Most of the livestock is privately owned, awhile approximately 96% of products, including dairy, are produced by private farmers. Only a few farms use modern technology.  

Due to land degradation and overgrazing, the area for pasture has decreased since independence.  Yet, the livestock numbers have increased by over 65 % and are consequently is the main driver of overgrazing. This trend is also threatening the important biodiversity of adjacent ecosystems, with restoration being nearly impossible and becoming more and more expensive.


North and Central Asia
Scale of implementation
Rangeland / Pasture
Access and benefit sharing
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Legal & policy frameworks
Sustainable livelihoods
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience


Gharm, districts of Republican Subordination, Tajikistan


Tajikistan faces a major problem of unsustainable grazing pressure from high livestock numbers and insufficient pasture management. The country is in dire need of better pasture governance based on a solid legal basis.

Overgrazing, especially in the immediate vicinity of villages puts significant pressure on the communal pasture lands and leads to serious land degradation. This land degradation puts the livelihood and food

security of the rural Tajik population at risk. Despite the adoption of the pasture law in 2019, community-based controlled grazing mechanisms are not yet widespread. The main reasons are the absence of by-laws and weak law enforcement. Sustainable pasture management planning is consequently a crucial tool to be applied by pasture users.


Beneficiaries are pastoralists in all regions of Tajikistan. Further, the approach supports the pasture governance and hence, supports the Pasture Trust under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Tajikistan. 

How do the building blocks interact?

For sustainable pasture management to be successful, both pasture governance as well as pasture management techniques have to be addressed and improved. A sound legal framework and organizational development provide the necessary structure to keep livestock numbers at a sustainable level. Pasture management techniques, even basic ones such as introducing a pasture management plan and grazing calendars, can support the optimal though still sustainable use of pastures.


For  pasture management to become sustainable in Central Asia the following dimensions have to be addressed equally:

  1. Institutions: Based on a multi-stakeholder dialogue the legal framework on pasture management was improved and by-laws developed to ensure its implementation.
  2. Organisational Development: Pasture User Unions (PUU) were established in all regions and a national Pasture Management Networking Platform founded that ensures the exchange between all pastoralists and facilitates a dialogue with policymakers.
  3. Competence Development: Training events on pasture management planning for pastoralists enable pasture users to plan and manage their land sustainably. 
  4. Knowledge Management: An online document management system was established that enables instant access to a variety of pasture management techniques and planning documents. 
  5. Socio-cultural relations: Local traditions and cultures are reflected in pasture management plans. 
  6. Planning & Monitoring: Simple pasture management plans and grazing calendars enable pastoralists to plan the sustainable management of their ecosystem jointly with other pasture users. 
  7. Environment: It is recommended to plant local pasture seeds and diversify the pasture species as much as possible. This will ensure optimal regrowth and nectar for beneficial insects and allows for honey production as a side business. 


WHH/Nigora Kholova

Mr Saidashraf Iskandarov cultivates a plot of about 1 ha in the hills of the watershed Jafr in Tajikistan’s green Rasht valley. Through the project, he has started to cultivate fodder on his plot that he prior used for a few fruit tree species and for grazing his flock of sheep and goats. The project has supported him to fence the area partially as well as to install contour lines across his plot to improve water retention.

The fodder he harvests from the plot provides sufficient food for his livestock during the long and cold winter months. Surpluses he is able to sell on the market at relatively high prices, as fodder is scarce, and prices increase exponentially in the winter season.

During the 1,5 years since he fenced the area and stopped grazing in immediate proximity to the trees, he has also been able to harvest more fruits and trees have grown faster without the disturbance of the animals.

Mr Iskandarov has further installed four beehives on his plot from which he is producing honey for his and his families own consumption.

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nicole.pfefferle_35741's picture

Nicole Pfefferle Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH