Improving steppe land use
Use of rangelands on Sailughem Ridge (Republic of Altai) in light of the establishment of a new national park
Leonid Bailagasov (Altai Regional Institute of Ecology, Gorno-Altaisk)
The use of rangelands near the newly-established Sailughem National Park in Kosh-Agach District was studied. The condition of steppe and mountain tundra rangelands is equally important for both local cattle-breeders and for the conservation of the Altai Argali mountain sheep which is listed in the Red Data Book of Russia.
After declines in the number of livestock and grazing pressure in the 1990s, they then increased and exceeded the 85% levels of 1991. The scheme of rangeland use and composition of grazing livestock is described. The area under investigation comprised summer and winter as well as early-spring and spring-autumn pastures. Some areas located near settlements are used all year round. The livestock mostly comprises sheep and goats and a small number of cattle, with 5% of it being horses. Grazing pressure in summer rangelands varies between 0.1-0.12 head per ha, while in winter pastures it is between 0.13-2 head per ha. A new assessment of pasture productivity and disturbance was conducted based on geobotanical survey data from 1985. Pasture productivity turned out to be 20-30% lower than the estimates from the 1940s and ’50s and 5.4-11% lower when compared to the assessment made in 1985. The author, however, believes the number of livestock can be increased by 15-20%.
The area of study is of significant importance to the Sailughem population of Argali sheep. A number of activities necessary for protecting Argali sheep in the national park, as well as for improving rangeland use in neighbouring areas, is given.
Natural rangelands, forage grasslands, geobotanical study, pasture productivity, rangeland disturbance, grazing pressure, semi-nomadic pastoralism, transhumance, Altai mountain sheep, argali, wild sheep, national park, Sailughem, South-Eastern Altai, Kosh-Agach District
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