Kegawa

Hours outside of the county seat of Zhiduo, Qinghai Province, China, lies the herding community of Lari.  Reliant primarily on animal husbandry, this Tibetan community has for generations adapted to the harsh high altitude climate of the Tibetan plateau grassland ecosystem.  In their midst stands Kegawa Mountain.  Attributed with much spiritual significance, koras around the mountain are conducted by Tibetan Buddhist devotees, with the circular route adorned by flags and monuments.  Wolves, bear, blue sheep, gazelle, and big horn sheep also frequent this mountain region.

As an icon for the community, it has also become a sign of impending climate change threat. Community members have monitored changes in Kegawa Glacier, and with no firm scientific evidence of glacier recession, other effects of climate change have not been unnoticed.  Climate changes, combined with harmful policies regarding land management, have also led to decades of grassland degradation.  Without a healthy grassland ecosystem, for which nomadic communities rely so heavily, the very fabric that has allowed life in this region to flourish will collapse.

In recent years academic research has been conducted in this region to improve grassland management, local livelihoods and ultimately environmental protection.  Various co-management strategies have been trialed in order to empower locals so that future policy decision-making will holistically encompass environmental and social concerns.