Change and Continuity in a Pastoralist Community in the High Peruvian Andes
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- Postigo, J.C., Young, K.R. & Crews, K.A. Hum Ecol (2008) 36: 535. doi:10.1007/s10745-008-9186-1
Pastoralists of the high Andes Mountains raise mixed herds of camelids and sheep. This study evaluates the land use of herdsmen who are confronted by both socioeconomic and climate changes in Huancavelica, central Peru. Land use/ land cover change (LULCC) was measured through satellite imagery, and pastoralists’ capacity to adapt to socioenvironmental changes was evaluated through interviews and archival research. The most dynamic LULCCs between 1990 and 2000 were large increases in wetlands and a loss of permanent ice. We conclude that the people’s responses to these changes will depend on availability of institutions to manage pastures, other household resources, and perceptions of these biophysical changes. Socioenvironmental change is not new in the study area, but current shifts will likely force this community to alter its rules of access to pastures, its economic rationales in regards to commodities produced, and the degree of dependence on seasonal wage labor. In this scenario, households with a greater amount of livestock will fare better in terms of assets and capital that will allow them to benefit from the increasing presence of a market economy in a landscape undergoing climate change.