Nomadic Herding: A Sustainable Way of Life

Join us as we explore the world of nomadic herding, from the traditional knowledge and skills used by nomadic herders to the economic and environmental benefits of this unique way of life. Discover how nomadic herding can be a sustainable and valuable part of the modern world.

Like so many else, I’ve been experimenting with ChatbotGPT from I’m completely blown away by the possibilities and the level of content that it manages to create.

To test it, I asked it to give me some catchy title suggestions for a blog post about nomadic pastoralism. One of the suggestions was “Nomadic Herding: A Sustainable Way of Life”!

So here it goes; I think it was pretty good but see for yourself:

write a 800 words blog post titled “Nomadic Herding: A Sustainable Way of Life”

Nomadic herding is a traditional way of raising livestock that involves moving from one place to another in search of pasture and water. This way of life has been practised for thousands of years and continues to thrive in many parts of the world. As a result, nomadic herders have a deep connection to the land and a wealth of traditional knowledge and skills to manage their animals and sustain their way of life.

But what makes nomadic herding a sustainable way of life? To answer this question, it’s essential to understand the unique characteristics of nomadic herding and how it can benefit the environment and local communities.

One of the critical characteristics of nomadic herding is the use of large, mobile herds of animals. This allows nomadic herders to move their animals to different areas in search of fresh pasture and water, and it will enable the land to recover after the animals have grazed. In addition, this type of mobility helps to prevent overgrazing and soil erosion and helps maintain the land’s health.

In addition, nomadic herders have a deep understanding of the land and its resources, using this knowledge to manage their animals and grazing patterns. This allows them to avoid damaging sensitive areas, such as wetlands and riverbanks, and to maximize the productivity of the land. Nomadic herders also use various traditional herding techniques, such as rotational grazing, to manage their animals and maximize the benefits of grazing.

Another critical aspect of nomadic herding is its role in conserving biodiversity. Nomadic herders often move their animals to different areas in search of pasture and water, which can help preserve their animals’ genetic diversity. In addition, nomadic herding can help to maintain the diversity of plant and animal species in a given area. This is because nomadic herders often graze their animals on land unsuitable for agriculture, which can help preserve natural habitats and ecosystems.

Nomadic herding also provides significant economic and social benefits to local communities. Nomadic herders provide food, fibre, and other products essential to many rural areas’ economies. In addition, nomadic herding can help create jobs and support local businesses. Nomadic herders also play a vital role in maintaining cultural traditions and identity, and they can help preserve a given area’s cultural heritage.

Despite the many benefits of nomadic herding, some challenges must be addressed to ensure its sustainability. One of the biggest challenges is the loss of pasture and water due to the expansion of agriculture, mining, and other forms of development. This can make it difficult for nomadic herders to find suitable grazing land for their animals, leading to conflict with other land users. In addition, nomadic herders must deal with the challenges of climate change, which can lead to changes in precipitation patterns and other impacts on the land.

To address these challenges, it is essential to support nomadic herding and to recognize its value as a sustainable way of life. This can be done through various measures, such as providing access to education, healthcare, and other services for nomadic herders.

This took me 5 minutes (or rather, it took 5 minutes to come up with the query to ChatbotGTP)… After that, I used Grammarly to freshen up some of the writing!

The ramifications are mind-blowing!!


Collaborative foundations of herding: The formation of cooperative groups among Tibetan pastoralists

Just got a paper published in Journal of Arid Environments on cooperation among Tibetan pastoralists.

You can read the paper here, it’s open access.

Luckily, the paper got published on the same day as I got grant applications rejected from the Research Council of Norway.

Why bring that up? Because the paper and one of the grant applications have some obvious parallels.

The paper documents why cooperation is vital for Tibetan pastoralists: it increases control of herds, reduces individual household’s labour demand and increases the potential for economic diversification.

Tibetan herder bring a subset of the herd back to camp for the night. Photo (C) Marius Warg Næss

The grant application extends this aspect: it wants to comparatively investigate pastoral cooperation by taking as its starting point that cooperative herding groups are a necessary component of pastoral life.

The paradox is that while it is almost impossible for pastoral households to maintain production without cooperative labour investment and mutual help from other households, a comparative perspective of cooperative herding group formation is currently lacking.

Moreover, while cooperation is widely documented, it is treated in a somewhat ad hoc fashion. For example, it has been used as an explanation for why there is no relationship between household labour investment and pastoral production (see this paper).

Furthermore, herding groups have been described as fluid: changing composition from year to year and between seasons. Thus, they have been viewed as less important than more extensive and more political, groupings.

My personal point of view that despite the instability of herding units, they represent an essential building block of nomadic societies because they are concerned with daily cooperation.

More to the point, we know relatively little about them: what evidence we have represent a snapshot in time. We lack longitudinal data as well as data concerning how cooperation is changing as a consequence of changes in land tenure.

While getting grant rejections sucks, I still think this is a worthwhile project that I’ll pursue.

Anyone interested in collaborating on such a project is welcome to contact me.