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The Role of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge in Managing Rangelands Sustainably in Northern Iran

Mehdi Ghorbani, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Iran
Hossein Azarnivand, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Iran
Ali Akbar Mehrabi, Department of Watershed Management, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran
Mohammad Jafari, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Iran
Hooshang Nayebi, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Iran
Klaus Seeland, ETHZ, Institute for Environmental Decisions – Group Society, Environment and Culture, Zürich, Switzerland


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Pastoralists’ knowledge of adaptive rangeland management in Iran has long been only selectively analyzed and documented. This study attempts to rectify that by outlining the indigenous ecological knowledge of the pastoralists of Nariyan village in the Taleghan region of northern Iran, and by evaluating the influence of such knowledge on rangeland management. Local herd owners operate according to traditional herding practices; their knowledge of rangeland plants and principles of sustainable rangeland management is indigenous and is based on centuries of experience and observation. Their in-depth knowledge covers the medicinal properties of various local plant species and the palatability of the most salient forage species in terms of sustaining the sheep and goats that are their livelihood. This study investigates some of the traditional strategies of rangeland management used in the Taleghan region, the rationale and timing of livestock rotation in the rangelands, local landscape classification, and local know-how in animal husbandry, all of which are indispensable in contributing to the pastoralists’ survival and maintenance of the local environment.

Key words

adaptive management; ecological memory; grazing management; indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK); pastoralists; rangeland management; rangeland utilization; Taleghan region, Iran

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087