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Historical Ecologies of Pastoralist Overgrazing in Kenya: Long-Term Perspectives on Cause and Effect

Boles, Oliver J.C. and Shoemaker, Anna and Courtney Mustaphi, Colin J. and Petek, Nik and Ekblom, Anneli and Lane, Paul J.. (2019) Historical Ecologies of Pastoralist Overgrazing in Kenya: Long-Term Perspectives on Cause and Effect. Human ecology, 47 (3). pp. 419-434.

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Abstract

The spectre of 'overgrazing' looms large in historical and political narratives of ecological degradation in savannah ecosystems. While pastoral exploitation is a conspicuous driver of landscape variability and modification, assumptions that such change is inevitable or necessarily negative deserve to be continuously evaluated and challenged. With reference to three case studies from Kenya - the Laikipia Plateau, the Lake Baringo basin, and the Amboseli ecosystem - we argue that the impacts of pastoralism are contingent on the diachronic interactions of locally specific environmental, political, and cultural conditions. The impacts of the compression of rangelands and restrictions on herd mobility driven by misguided conservation and economic policies are emphasised over outdated notions of pastoralist inefficiency. We review the application of 'overgrazing' in interpretations of the archaeological record and assess its relevance for how we interpret past socio-environmental dynamics. Any discussion of overgrazing, or any form of human-environment interaction, must acknowledge spatio-temporal context and account for historical variability in landscape ontogenies.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Natur- Landschafts- und Umweltschutz > Geoökologie (Heiri)
UniBasel Contributors:Courtney-Mustaphi, Colin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0300-7839
e-ISSN:1572-9915
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:04 Sep 2019 09:07
Deposited On:04 Sep 2019 09:07

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