Managing the commons in the post-Soviet transition
Degradation of dryland pastures is known as a challenging factor in many developing and transition countries in the Greater Central Asian (GCA) region – home to one of the largest trans-boundary desert ecosystems. Within the ‘central core’ of the five former Soviet Republics (see Squires and Lu, 2018), the dryland pasture degradation was a somewhat neglected aspect during the post-Soviet transformation period reforms. In two decades, after the collapse of the former Soviet regime, the total area of degraded rangelands in the five ‘stans’ exceeded 71 million ha, or 61.04% of the total pastoral area (IFPRI/ICARDA 2008; Nishanov 2013; Otakulov 2013). The major institutional challenges currently in rangelands are expressed by limited mobility of animal flocks in remote areas and by access (use rights) to pastoral land resources (Robinson et al. 2012). However, the historical reports of the former Soviet experience in rangelands indicate that political decisions over the dryland production system had resulted in a better management of pastoral resources with higher productivity than those we see today.