Why herd size matters - mitigating the effects of livestock crashes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Journal articles 
Original versionPLoS ONE. 2013, 8 (8), . 10.1371/journal.pone.0070161
Analysing the effect of pastoral risk management strategies provides insights into a system of subsistence that have persevered in marginal areas for hundreds to thousands of years and may shed light into the future of around 200 million households in the face of climate change. This study investigated the efficiency of herd accumulation as a buffer strategy by analysing changes in livestock holdings during an environmental crisis in the Saami reindeer husbandry in Norway. We found a positive relationship between: (1) pre- and post-collapse herd size; and (2) pre-collapse herd size and the number of animals lost during the collapse, indicating that herd accumulation is an effective but costly strategy. Policies that fail to incorporate the risk-beneficial aspect of herd accumulation will have a limited effect and may indeed fail entirely. In the context of climate change, official policies that incorporate pastoral risk management strategies may be the only solution for ensuring their continued existence.