Abolhassani: Assessing the effects of land-use change on agrobiodiversity in Iran

Authors: Maedeh Salimi, Ghanimat Azhdari, Fereshteh Sabetian and Leila Vaziri. Photo credits: Maedeh Salimi, Hamid Pakzadeh, Ramin Rouhani and Abbas Didari. Project funded by the Christensen Fund.Abolhassani Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Area is one of eight biocultural landscapes where CENESTA and PAR are undertaking an interdisciplinary research project “Supporting Agrobiodiversity Maintenance and Use in the Context of 
Land Management Decisions” funded by The Christensen Fund.

The Abolhassani Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy consists of 11 villages on the edge of the central desert of Iran. The area is known as Touran, one of nine UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Iran, a home to the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah. The Confederacy territory, located within the Reserve, is an Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Area (ICCA). We worked with local communities to assess agrobiodiversity, land-use change and resilience. Data was collected using household survey, focus group discussions, participatory mapping and community assessment.

Abolhassani nomadic communities in Iran have diversified their livelihood activities by integrating crop production with animal herding. Barley is cultivated and used as animal forage and feed during droughts and grazing plans are re-evaluated every year to determine the number of livestock that can enter each pasture. “Weak” pastures are left to recover and are not grazed for a period of time. This collective engagement in adaptive rangeland management, diversification and equitable share of resources are some of the key elements of the resilience of the Abolhassani tribes.

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