It has to be stated from the beginning that grasslands in Kyrgyzstan have a crucial economic importance from the macroeconomic national level down to the level of local households as supplier of natural animal fodder, as well as crucial ecological meanings such as for water and nutrient cycling, filtration, and soil formation. In spite of the vast expanse of pasture lands and the reduction of livestock numbers in the 1990s, the scope and diversity of pasture-related socio-ecological challenges have increased remarkably, and have come to endanger the continued provision of these services (Wilson 1997:62–63; Undeland 2005: 22). Degradation leads to a growing shortage of grassland, and pasture-related conflicts jeopardize the country’s social integrity. Based on these facts, this presentation has two objectives. The first is to shed light on the importance of legal institutions for the emergence of pasture-related social and ecological problems. Second, it advocates for a participatory approach to the creation of institutional regulations regarding the management and utilization of natural resources. Including the local population in the pasture utilization-related institution-building process can make a decisive contribution to a sustainable development of the country’s society by balancing different interests. The hypothesis to be explored is that formal institutions, especially top-down-initiated legal rules, are decisively contributing to the formation of socio-ecological pasturerelated challenges.


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