Transhumance in Central Anatolia: A Resilient Interdependence Between Biological and Cultural Diversity
Transhumance is a resource efficient means of livestock production by seasonally moving grazing animals to utilize pastures between varying ecological zones. This article investigated the interrelationship between the environmental services the transhumant provides whilst maintaining its cultural heritage and theorized what the cultural and environmental impacts would be if the practice of transhumance were to vanish. The authors interviewed 45 transhumant families during their 2015 seasonal migration through the Taurus Mountains and in their settled tent sites in Central Anatolia. The interview topics related to geography of the region, migration routes, natural resource constraints and opportunities, animal husbandry, grazing strategies and their income sources. By practicing agro-ecological principles over millennia, the research showed that the transhumant has helped shape a complex mosaic of habitats in one of Mediterranean's most interesting ecosystems. The mobile pastoralist with conservation and natural resource management skills over a long period has reduced erosion control, improved soil quality and deterred the likelihood of forest fires, whilst weaving a resilient social web. The survey also indicated a clear link between social and ecological resilience emphasizing that sustainable development relies on the interconnectedness between biological and cultural diversity. The study recommends special provisions be made by the Turkish government for the educational needs for the children of the transhumant, provide initiatives for improved trading of their produce, introduce law enforcement for oppressive behavior against them and finally support the pastoralists to attain world heritage listing as a unique and an irreplaceable culture for the future welfare of humankind.