Impacts of climate change to the transhumance system and local adaptation measures in the Himalayas

Impacts of climate change to the transhumance system and local adaptation measures in the Himalayas

Suman ARYAL (Nepal)

University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Traditional social-ecological systems are facing challenges in adapting to new disturbances. Transhumance system in the Himalayas was evolved to utilise the seasonal availability of grazing resources distributed at different elevations and has been shaped by centuries of trial and errors generating experiences and ideas for sustaining livelihood and natural resources. Recently, this system is experiencing a number of threats arose from globalisation and climate change among others. Climate models have predicted pronounced warming in high altitude regions in the Himalayas. But, there is no information about the impacts of climate change to the transhumance system and local adaptation measures. One hundred and forty five transhumant herders were interviewed and 6 focus groups were conducted to identify perceived impacts of climate change and explore adaptation strategies in the mountainous areas of Nepal. Transhumant herders have observed fast melting of snow in the rangelands, drying of water resources and increase in drought. Other noticeable changes were early induce in greenery and flowering/maturing of plants in the rangelands, appearance of new plant species in the rangelands and new diseases to the livestock. Mobility of herd, diversification of herd composition, storage of feeding resources and communal pooling were the local adaptation measures practiced by transhumant herders in the Nepal Himalaya. Findings of the study suggest climate change has impacted traditional social-ecological systems, and local adaptations practices can be instrumental in reducing risk from climate change.



I am a passionate environmental and sustainability researcher. My research interests are social-ecological system (SES), environmental assessment, biodiversity conservation, rural livelihood and climate change. My PhD is about social-ecological impacts from the structural change in the traditional SES integrating research tools and techniques from both natural and social science. I held double Master’s Degree; one in Biodiversity and Environmental Management and other in Environmental Science. I have over 10 years of experiences in teaching from primary through tertiary level. I have also worked as a conservation officer and agricultural scientist/consultant in different organizations. I have contributed as a biodiversity/agro-biodiversity expert in a number of environmental impact assessment studies. I have published more than a dozen of research articles in high impact journals including Climatic Change, Regional Environmental Change and The Rangeland Journal. My focus of research in recent years is on impact of climate change to the indigenous communities and traditional systems particularly their vulnerabilities and resilience.

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