Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 941–947 | Cite as

A cognitive approach to the post-Soviet Central Asian pasture puzzle: new data from Kyrgyzstan

  • Jordan LevineEmail author
  • Aiganysh Isaeva
  • Ian Eddy
  • Marc Foggin
  • Sarah Gergel
  • Shannon Hagerman
  • Hisham Zerriffi
Rapid Communication


Despite internationally recognized definitions, there remains debate over what constitutes ‘actual’ degradation in various agro-pastoral contexts. This contention is especially pronounced in post-Soviet Central Asia. In this paper, we report on new interview data from the post-Soviet Kyrgyz Republic. These data evidence greater diversity of local perceptions of pasture degradation than previously reported. We then demonstrate how considering the role of well-documented aspects of human cognition demystifies the otherwise puzzling inconsistency in local pasture degradation narratives. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of this analytical approach for management.


Pasture degradation Central Asia Cognition Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan Self-concept 



We wish to thank the Partnership for the Advancement of Human Development in Africa and Asia (AKDN and Government of Canada) for their financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liu Institute for Global IssuesUBCVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Mountain Societies Research InstituteUniversity of Central AsiaBishkekKyrgyzstan
  3. 3.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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