Skip to main content

Implication of coupled natural and human systems in sustainable rangeland ecosystem management in HKH region


The sustainable development of rangeland ecosystems, the vital ecosystems providing many important ecosystem services for millions of people in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region is presently confronted with a number of challenges. A coupled natural and human systems approach is needed to facilitate effective collaboration among social scientists, bio/physical scientists, and management practitioners to better understand how people interact with the environment in which they live. In pursuing this argument, three existing case studies, i.e. Indigenous rangeland management in Himalayan Nepal, Cultivated Grassland Systems in Eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, and Grassland Restoration in Central Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau were synthesized in this paper to address the importance of coupled natural and human systems in promoting sustainable rangeland ecosystem management in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region. It was concluded although the research sites and objectives were very different, that these three case studies had many commonalities that addressed the complex interactions and feedbacks between natural and human systems, and highlighted the integration of various tools and techniques from the ecological and social sciences, as well as other disciplines, in sustainable rangeland management. These case studies have offered unique interdisciplinary insights into complexities that cannot be gained from ecological or social research alone. The results from these case studies can be applied to many other coupled systems at local, national, and global levels.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Alirol P (1979). Transhumaning animal husbandry systems in Kaligchowk Region (Central Nepal). Swiss Association for Technical Assistance/Integrated Hill Development Project: Kathmandu, Nepal

    Google Scholar 

  • Bao WZ, Shan W, Yang X D, Song H, Lan Y F (1998). Ecological crisis faced by grassland resources and strategies in northern China. Grassland of China, (2): 68–71 (in Chinese)

  • Chand S P, Gurung B D, Rood P G (1991). Farmers’ traditional wisdom: where does it stand within the present agricultural research systems of Nepal? Pakhribas Agricultural Centre (PAC) Occasional Paper No.4, Dhankuta, Nepal

  • Dong S K, Gao HW, Xu G C, Hou X Y, Long R J, Kang MY, Lassoie P J (2007a). Farmer and professional attitudes to the large-scale ban on livestock grazing of grasslands in China. Environmental Conservation, 34(3): 246–254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dong S K, Kang M Y, Long R J, Yun X J, Hu Z Z (2007b). Economic comparison of annual crop, perennial pasture and native grassland forage production in the alpine region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Grass and Forage Science, 62: 405–415

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dong S K, Lassoie J P, Yan Z L, Sharma E, Shrestha K K, Pariya D (2007c). Indigenous rangeland resource management in the mountainous areas of northern Nepal: a case study from the Rasuwa District. The Rangeland Journal, 29: 149–160

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dong S K, Long R J, Hu Z Z, Kang M Y, Pu X P (2003). Productivity and nutritive value of some cultivated perennial grasses and mixtures in the alpine region of the Tibetan Plateau. Grass and Forage Science, 58: 302–308

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ives I D (1981). High mountains and plateaus: An excursion to the roof of the world. Mountain Research, 1: 79–83

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li X L, Huang B N (1995). The cause of “Black Soil Patch” grassland in Qinghai Province and management countermeasures. Grassland of China, 85(4): 64–67 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu J, Dietz T, Carpenter S R, Alberti M, Folke C, Moran E, Pell A N, Deadman P, Kratz T, Lubchenco J, Ostrom E, Ouyang Z, Provencher W, Redman C L, Schneider S H, Taylor WW (2007a). Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science, 317(5844): 1513–1516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu J, Dietz T, Carpenter S R, Folke C, Alberti M, Redman C L, Schneider S H, Ostrom, E, Pell A N, Lubchenco J, Taylor W W, Ouyang Z, Deadman P, Kratz T, Provencher W (2007b). Coupled human and natural systems. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 36(8): 639–649

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ma Y S, Lang B N, Wang Q J (1999). Review and prospect of the study on “Black Soil” deterioration grassland. Pratacultural Science, 16(2): 5–8 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller D (1997a). Rangelands and range management. ICIMOD Newsletter, 27(Spring): 2–3

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller D (1997b). Conservation biodiversity in the HKH rangelands. ICIMOD Newsletter, 27(Spring): 8–11

    Google Scholar 

  • Naimer-Fuller M, Turner M T (1999). A review of recent literature on pastoralism and transhumance in Africa. In: Naimer-Fuller M ed. Managing Mobility in African Rangelands: The Legitimisation of Transhumance. Lodon: Intermediate Technology Publications, 8–46

    Google Scholar 

  • Schild A (2007). The mountain persepctive as an emerging element in the international development agenda. ICIMOD Newsletter, 53(Winter): 5–8

    Google Scholar 

  • Steinfeld H, De Haan C, Blackburn H (1997). Livestock-environment interactions: Issues and Options. FAO, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  • Tamang D (1993). Challenges and opportunities in farm and community resource management in Nepal. In: Tamang D, Gill G J, Thapa G B eds. ’Indigenous Management of Natural Resources in Nepal Tamang’. Proceeding of the Workshop on Indigenous Management of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dhulikhel, Nepal, 1992, June8–9: 13–23

  • Wang J A, Xu X, Liu P F (1999). Land use and land carrying capacity in eco-tone between agriculture and animal husbandry in northern China. Resources Science, 21(5): 19–24 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Xu Z X, Li Y Q (2002). Grassland degeneration and soil erosion. In: Hong F Z, Ren J Z eds. Progress of Modern Prataculture Science: Proceeding of China International Grassland Conference. Chinese Grassland Society, Beijing, China, 285–288 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Yang R R (2002). Analysis on the causes of degradation and strategies of sustainable development of grassland inWestern China. Pratacultural Science, (1): 23–27 (in Chinese)

  • Zhou X M (2001). Kobresia Meadow of China. Beijing: Scientific Press of China (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shikui Dong.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dong, S., Wen, L., Zhu, L. et al. Implication of coupled natural and human systems in sustainable rangeland ecosystem management in HKH region. Front. Earth Sci. China 4, 42–50 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • natural and human systems
  • rangeland ecosystems
  • sustainable management Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region