Title: Ecosystem service dependence in livestock and crop-based production systems in Asia’s high mountains.
Authors: Murali,R., Ikhagvajav, P., Amankul, V., Jumabay, K., Sharma, K., Bhatnagar, Y. V., Suryawanshi, K., Mishra, C
Abstract: Globally, in semi-arid and arid landscapes, there is an ongoing transition from livestock-production systems to crop-production systems, and in many parts of Asia’s arid mountains, mining for minerals is also increasing. These changes are accompanied by a change in the generation and quality of ecosystem services (ES), which can impact human well-being. In this study, to better understand the impacts of such transitions, we quantified ES in two crop-based and three livestock-based production systems in the arid and semi-arid landscapes of the High Himalaya and Central Asia, specifically in the Indian Himalaya, Kyrgyz Tien Shan, and Mongolian Altai. Our results showed 1) high economic dependence (3.6–38 times the respective annual household income) of local farmers on provisioning ES, with the economic value of ES being greater in livestock-production systems (7.4–38 times the annual household income) compared to crop-production systems (3.6–3.7 times the annual household income); 2) ES input into cashmere production, the main commodity from the livestock-production systems, was 13–18 times greater than the price of cashmere received by the farmer; and 3) in the livestock production systems affected by mining, impacts on ES and quality of life were reported to be negative by majority of the respondents. We conclude that livestock-based systems may be relatively more vulnerable to degrading impacts of mining and other ongoing developments due to their dependence on larger ES resource catchments that tend to have weaker land tenure and are prone to fragmentation. In contrast to the general assumption of low value of ES in arid and semi-arid landscapes due to relatively low primary productivity, our study underscores the remarkably high importance of ES in supporting local livelihoods.
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