Classification of Mountain Silvopastoral Farming Systems in Walnut Forests of Kyrgyzstan: Determining Opportunities for Sustainable Livelihoods
- Department of Crop Sciences and Agroforestry, Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
- Mountain Societies Research Institute, University of Central Asia
- Faculty of Life Sciences, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
- Department of Economics and Development, Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences
Authors: Azamat Azarov, Zbynek Polesny, Dietrich Darr, Maksim Kulikov, Vladimir Verner and Roy C. Sidle
Kyrgyz walnut-fruit forests are unique ecosystems inhabited by silvopastoral farm households that depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. Illegal logging, excessive collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), and overgrazing of forest pastures negatively affect forest regeneration and biodiversity, ultimately impacting sustainable livelihoods in the region. Understanding farm heterogeneity is critical to identify targeted interventions that have the potential to improve livelihood sustainability for local populations. This study identifies and elucidates the typology of farms in walnut-fruit forests. Data were collected from 220 farm-households in three villages located within or in the buffer zone of protected areas. Principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis were used to analyze quantitative data and aggregate farms into clusters according to forest resource availability and use, production means, and socioeconomic characteristics. Three distinct silvopastoral farming systems were identified, in which farmers collect and sell NTFPs, but also have: (i) relatively high NTFP income, medium-sized livestock herds, and low off-farm income; (ii) moderate NTFP income, large livestock herds, and high off-farm income; and (iii) low NTFP income, small herds, and moderate off-farm income. Overall, all types of farms showed different livelihood strategies; specific recommendations aimed at increasing sustainability were provided for each type. While both improved forages for livestock and grazing in forests are relevant for all types of farms, in some cases, value-added processing of NTFPs and contributions from off-farm activities such as tourism are necessary for the conservation and sustainable use of forests.