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UNESCO’s “Climate Frontlines” Forum Discusses the Impact of Frozen Pastures on Herding Communities

26 April 2010: The latest issue of “Climate Frontlines,” a global forum on the internet for indigenous peoples, small islands and vulnerable communities sponsored by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), features an article on the growing role of climate change in accelerating desertification and accentuating winter conditions for herding communities.

The article, titled “Frozen Pastures, starving herds,” highlights perspectives from Mongolian pastoralists and Sami reindeer herders in northern Sweden. In Mongolia, over a third of the population's livelihood depends on livestock herds such as sheep, goats, camels, horses, cattle, and yaks for their livelihoods. Increasing harsh winters known as ‘dzuds' are leading to the loss of herds and the loss of food and income by local communities, who are forced to migrate to urban centers, putting additional pressure on the job market.

For Sami reindeer herders in northern Sweden, severe winters called ‘tjuokke,' which leave an impenetrable sheet of ice over pastures, are limiting the feeding options for reindeer herds. [Climate Frontlines Article]