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


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.

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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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Correspondence to Jordan Levine.

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Editor: Nicolas Dendoncker.

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Levine, J., Isaeva, A., Eddy, I. et al. A cognitive approach to the post-Soviet Central Asian pasture puzzle: new data from Kyrgyzstan. Reg Environ Change 17, 941–947 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1122-8

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