Monday 5
Vulnerability and Resilience of Livestock Farming Systems Facing Global Changes
Jean F. Tourrand
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› La Courvertoirade / Le Caylar
Managing the resilience of a livestock-production socio-ecological system in South Africa - A SES modeling approach
Sebastian Rasch  1@  , Reolof Oomen  2@  , Thomas Heckelei  1@  
1 : Institute for Food and Resource Economics - Bonn University
2 : Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation - Bonn University

Grazing livestock plays a vital role for livelihoods in communal areas of South Africa as it constitutes either a mean of subsistence or a financial buffer in unfavorable times (Dovie et al. 2006). Increasing the economic benefits generated by these rangeland systems is thus becoming an increasingly important goal on the agenda of the South African Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. However, increasing economic returns should be accompanied by sustaining or improving the resilience of desirable configurations of the social-ecological system (SES) towards external disturbances. That is, increasing the risk of system collapse in favor of short-term profits is not a viable option for sustainable development. The notion of SES involves the acknowledgement that ecological and social processes are intertwined and can thus not be investigated in isolation (Berkes et al. 2003). To estimate the impact of proposed system alterations is thus inherently complex. Moreover, to quantify resilience is problematic as “the only sure way to detect a threshold in a complex system is to cross it” (Carpenter et al. 2005, p.941). The latter is often not feasible in real-world SES due to ethical or practical issues (Carpenter et al. 2005). However, simulation models can be a useful alternative to detect changes in SES dynamics stemming from changes in the structural set-up (Schlüter et al. 2012; Carpenter et al. 2001).

We used case study data from a local SES in South Africa to specify a SES agent based model to investigate the resilience of the coupled system. Data was gathered by a multi-disciplinary research group of soil and rangeland scientists, anthropologists and economists. The investigated village community of Sediba utilizes a common rangeland for beef cattle production under continuous grazing. Local experts as well as villagers have expressed the expectation of substantial economic benefits from the introduction of rotational grazing. The rationale in support for this measure is the avoidance of path-selective grazing as well as rest periods for the vegetation which is supposed to increase total forage available for animal intake and thus economic performance (Briske et al. 2008). However, even disregarding the costs for implementing the required infrastructure, there is no agreement in the scientific community on whether rotational grazing is actually superior in areas coined by low precipitation, high climatic variability and socio-economic depression (Briske et al. 2008; Holechek et al. 1999; Vetter 2013). Moreover, institutional issues of self-governance in common pool resource regimes with respect to rule conformance and enforcement have to be taken into account (Ostrom 2005). Here, social embededdness and norms are framing the local context (McAllister et al. 2011; Tavoni et al. 2012) and are thus considered in the model.

Our objectives are (1) to evaluate if the construction of an infrastructure necessary for rotational grazing in Sediba is actually improving biomass quantity, forage quality and livestock production and (2) to compare the resiliencies of the SES under both management schemes in the light of social and ecological disturbances, such as drought periods as well as changes in subsidization and ownership.


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