Livestock farming with nature

Ilse Koehler-Rollefson, Evelyn Mathias, Hanwant Singh Rathore, P. Vivekanandan and Jacob Wanyama, 2008

pp 84-86 in: Mainstreaming biodiversity issues into forestry and agriculture: Abstracts of poster presentations at the 13th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 18-22 Feb 2008, Rome. CBD Technical Series 34. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Full Text 371 kb
“Pastoralists and small-scale livestock keepers are crucial to conserving farm animal genetic resources”, says this poster, presented by LPP at the 13th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 18-22 Feb 2008 in Rome.

The accompanying abstract, published in the CBD Technical Series 34, outlines the LIFE approach to documenting indigenous breeds, lobbying and advocacy for Livestock Keepers’ Rights, and exploring value addition and marketing for livestock products.

Poster PDF, 473 kb

Abstract PDF, 371 kb

Protected areas and Livestock Keepers’ Rights

“How to destroy biodiversity in protected areas?” asks this poster.

“Easy! Just ban traditional grazing there.”

Banning pastoralists from traditional grazing areas alters the balance of wildlife, making scarce species such as leopards, lions and bustards even scarcer.

This poster by LPP’s Ilse Koehler-Rollefson and Hanwant Singh Rathore of Indian partner Lokhit Palu-Pashak Sansthan, outlines how pastoralists are fighting such bans. It was prepared for the Working Group on Protected Areas on 11-15 February 2008 in Rome.

Poster 722 kb

Looking at the bright side of life stock

The United Nations continues to see pastoralism as a main reason for desertification, says Drynet, a global initiative on drylands. But a large number of scientific studies contradict this, and instead show the positive effects of pastoralism as a land-use strategy.

LPP’s Ilse Koehler-Rollefson and Silke Brehm have collated some of the bright aspects of pastoralism.

Full article

Endogenous livestock development

Strengthening local initiatives, using resources sustainably

Endogenous livestock development means putting small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists at the centre of their own development. It means building on what they already do, and supporting their initiatives to improve their livelihoods, instead of imposing “solutions” from outside.

LPP and the Endogenous Livestock Development Network have published a 24-page booklet outlining the endogenous livestock development approach and introducing the ELD Network.

Booklet (786 kb)

Visit the Endogenous Livestock Development Network

Herders care for biodiversity

Every month, one more livestock breed becomes extinct…

This 8-page booklet and accompanying poster, published by the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development and the LIFE Network, highlight the issues and offer some solutions.

Booklet 393 kb (in English)

Poster 423 kb (in English and German)

Industrial livestock production and its impact on smallholders in developing countries

Consultancy Report to the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development

Susanne Gura

An analysis of the impact of capital-intensive livestock production and how it affects resource-poor smallholders.

PDF 726 kb

Local breeds, livelihoods and livestock keepers’ rights in South Asia

Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, H. S. Rathore and E. Mathias. Tropical Animal Health and Production. 22 Nov 2008.


In South Asia, and throughout the developing world, the predominant official approach to livestock development has been improvement of production by means of upgrading local breeds via cross-breeding with exotic animals. This strategy has led to the replacement and dilution of locally adapted breeds with non-native ones. This has resulted in an alarming loss that has been estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to amount to one breed every two weeks. Based on selected case studies this paper argues that development strategies using locally adapted breeds and species are much more likely to benefit livestock keepers whilst also maintaining domestic animal diversity and bearing a smaller ecological footprint. It also analyses the rationale for “Livestock Keepers’ Rights”, a principle that grew out of the struggle of traditional livestock keepers to retain control over their production resources, such as grazing areas and breeding stock, in the face of unfavourable policy environments.

Draft version (93 kb)

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Vier Hände für einen Höcker / Four hands for one hump

This article(i(in German) in the July 2009 issue of the nature magazine Natur+Kosmos describes the work of LPP’s Ilse Koehler-Rollefson and Hanwant Singh Rathore, director of LPP’s partner organization in Rajasthan, Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan.

Livestock keepers: Guardians of biodiversity

Smallholder farmers and pastoralists fulfil an invaluable yet undervalued role in conserving biodiversity. They act as guardians of locally adapted livestock breeds that can make use of even marginal environments under tough climatic conditions and therefore are a crucial resource for food security and possibly for adapting to climate change. But in addition, by sustaining animals on natural vegetation and as part of local ecosystems, these communities also make a significant contribution to the conservation of wild biodiversity and of cultural landscapes.

The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources acknowledges and seeks to support this crucial contribution of smallholder farmers and pastoralists to keeping our planet healthy and diverse. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues backs up this strategic approach and calls for it to be strengthened, while the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity also commits its signatories to support in situ conservation by local and indigenous communities.

This publication provides a glimpse into the often intricate knowledge systems that pastoralists and smallholder farmers have developed for the management of their breeds in specific production systems. It also describes the multitude of threats and challenges these often marginalized communities have to cope with and suggests interventions that can sustain valuable human-animal-environment relationships and combine conservation of breeds and their ecosystems with poverty alleviation.

Prepared by Ilse Köhler-Rollefson (LPP) with contributions from Evelyn Mathias (LPP) and Irene Hoffmann (FAO)


  • Background
  • Economic and ecological roles of smallholder farmers and pastoralists
  • Creators and guardians of breeds
  • Conservation
  • Why livestock keepers give up their breeds
  • Motivation and incentives to keep a breed
  • Improving small-scale livestock keepers’ participation in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources
  • References

Citation: FAO. 2009. Livestock keepers – Guardians of biodiversity. Animal Production and Health Paper 167. Rome.

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Leveraging the potential of livestock for dryland development

Why a paradigm shift is needed

Ilse Köhler-Rollefson

Presentation at an international conference on Nurturing Arid Zones for People and the Environment at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, India, 25 November 2009.

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