Conflicts and Collective Action on Common Village Pastures – Comparative Case Studies in Azerbaijan and Georgia (Co4)

Copyright: R. Neudert

Aims and Targets:
Grasslands of the mountain regions of the Caucasus are ecosystems of highest biodiversity. These semi-natural habitats are shaped by use as summer pasture in semi-nomadic structures and by use as common pastureland of sedentary farmers of mountain villages. In both farming systems increasing numbers of livestock and thus higher grazing pressure can be observed recently. This leads to a deterioration of the vegetation canopy causing losses in biodiversity and fostering threats from erosion with negative effects for the mountain villages.

Common village pastures are a heavily used key resource for mobile and stationary livestock keepers in the South Caucasian states Azerbaijan and Georgia. Village smallholders’ livelihood depends in vast parts from livestock husbandry, while intact pastures around villages prevent them from natural hazards. Village pastures are managed locally and collectively by a village community, which designs and enforces regulations itself.

In addition, different user groups, i.e. mobile and stationary livestock keepers, villagers and the village administration, have conflicting interests in resource management which have to be balanced in a complex negotiation process. The consistently worse state of village pasture resources in comparison to distant pastures shows that management conflicts are not always resolved to a cooperative management of pasture resources within the framework settings.

The project focuses with Azerbaijan and Georgia on two neighboring countries with similar ecological conditions and a similar administrative framework for pasture resource which was developed in the post-socialist transition period. However, due to differences in individual incentives and social experiences, the preferences and capacity for collective action might differ between the two countries.

This project contributes to the improved collective management of heavily used pasture resources in both countries by analyzing the resource management problem from an interdisciplinary perspective. We use institutional economic, farm economic and ecological knowledge for analyzing in detail the resource management dynamics and develop from the synthesis of these perspectives recommendations for the ecologically sound and socially sustainable management of village pasture resources.

Against this background the project focusses on the following topics concerning pasture resources in an interdisciplinary and comparative framework:

  • Rules and administrative framework on the national, the regional and the local level
  • Mechanisms of self-organization and self-administration on the local level
  • Economic effects of changes in pasture management
  • Ecological state of pastures and parameters for their sustainable use

In cooperation of Greifswald University/ Germany with the Agricultural University Tbilisi/ Georgia and the Azerbaijan State Agricultural University Ganja/ Azerbaijan we developed 4 working packages:

  • Institutional analysis of access to resources
  • Field experiments on “Collective Action” in resource management
  • Analysis of village households’ strategies
  • Ecological assessment of village pastureland resources

Another main focus of the project is the integration of young graduates in PostDoc and PhD positions. Six scientists from Georgia and Azerbaijan are working on their thesis in our Co4 project. As a part of the scientific qualification in our project visits in Germany for scientific exchange are part of the project program for interdisciplinary and international research.

Finally, the project aims to derive recommendations for the implementation of improved sustainable grassland management from the comprehensive analysis of ecosystems, household strategies and administrative framework, shaping the system of resource management together with traditional rules.


Collective action and conflict on common village pastures – Comparative case studies in Azerbaijan and Georgia

Funded by:
Volkswagen Foundation/Germany

Project runtime:
01.02.2015 – 31.01.2019

Project Lead:
Prof. Dr. Volker Beckmann, Greifswald University/Germany

Cooperation partners:
State Agricultural University Ganja:
Prof. Maharram Huseynov,
Prof. Gurban Mammadov

Agricultural University of Georgia:
Prof. Alexandre Didebulidze,
Prof. Teo Urushadze

Naiba Allahverdiyeva/Azerbaijan
Dr. Regina Neudert/Germany
Mariam Merabishvili/Georgia
Dr. Anja Salzer/Germany
Bidzina Imnadze/Georgia
Zurab Bregvadze/Georgia
Sahil Guliev/Azerbaijan
Niyaz Mamadov/Azerbaijan