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The Impact of the Transition Process on Human-Environmental Interactions in Southern Kyrgyzstan

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Schmidt, Matthias
Conference: The Commons in Transition: Property on Natural Resources in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, a Regional Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Prague
Conf. Date: April 11-13
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1426
Sector: Forestry
Land Tenure & Use
Region: Former Soviet Union
Subject(s): IASC
political economy
social change
economic development
environmental change
transitional economics
land tenure and use
Abstract: "The project sets out to explore the effects of the transition process on human-environmental interrelationships in the Jalal-Abad region in southern Kyrgyzstan. Using a political ecology approach as a conceptual framework, the project aims at investigating the nexus of socio-economic and environmental change, focusing on changing forest utilization, its political, social and economic root causes and its ecological consequences. Globally unique walnut-fruit forests in the region, characterized by remarkably high biodiversity, are of considerable importance for sustaining the livelihoods of the local population. These forests are now in a critical condition. The status as biodiversity-hotspot of international significance and the maintenance of their manifold landscape-ecological functions is seriously threatened. Forest utilization appears to reflect the intensified pressure on natural resources under the conditions of the transition process. "The state of research reveals that interrelationships between the transition process and ecological change in these forests and woodlands have neither been addressed in a larger and sectoral framework nor using interdisciplinary approaches so far. There is a general lack of data on the socio-economic position of the study area within Kyrgyzstan, trans-regional economic exchange relations, local property rights and land tenure issues, external interferences and political-economic power structures. At the same time, hardly any quantitative data are available on effects of multiple uses on forest ecosystem processes, biodiversity dynamics and forest condition. In order to analyse how the transition process is linked to environmental change, the approach of the project is threefold: ?The socio-economic approach focuses on political, economic and social changes and processes as consequences of the collapse of the authoritarian state-centred socialist system. It needs to differentiate the framework conditions on various levels by taking into account the relevant elements of the transition such as institutions and actors, property rights, and resource management strategies. ?The landscape-ecological approach seeks to clarify the implications of human activities for forest landscapes in the region and aims at investigating the capability of forests and woodlands to cope with increased utilization pressure. Ecological alteration processes at work along utilization pressure (disturbance) gradients will be analysed and evaluated in order to assess ecological potentials and constraints of sustainable resource use. ?Within the scope of the synthesis, the results of both approaches will be linked in an integrative, spatial-functional perspective. By directly relating constellations of socio-economic and ecological factors and processes at different spatial and temporal scales, a comprehensive, functional understanding of human-environmental interrelationships shall be achieved. A model of regional man-environment-relationships will be developed allowing to outline scenarios for the conditions of ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable land-use within the transition process. On this basis, strategies will be derived to support a development process, which is orientated towards the leitmotif of sustainability."

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