Land resources

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Economy and Resources, Geography

Land resources

Arable land is the scarcest resource in the Tajik Pamir environment. Most territory is barren, rocky mountain terrain with perma- nent snow, glaciers and debris, and only very limited biomass production. Landscapes

have been shaped by topography in combi- nation with climatic patterns. These domi- nant factors influence the natural potential and create risks for human use.

In the Western Pamirs arable land accounts for approximately 240 km2, or as little as 0.4% of the total area of the GBAO. Arable land and areas of settlement are located for the most part on alluvial fans and river banks. Given the minimal precipi- tation and the temperature regime, the veg- etation period is limited to 200 to 230 days annually. Irrigation is necessary to achieve good yields, labour inputs are high, and the potential for mechanisation is very limited.


High mountain desert soils predominate in the Eastern Pamirs, allowing only very extensive forms of land use such as live- stock grazing. Total pastureland area has been roughly estimated at 7,730 km2; few areas with mountain steppe soils along meandering rivers can be used for fodder production.

Following Tajik independence from the Soviet Union, a highly subsidised local eco- nomy that had been dependent on external resources was forced to turn to subsidence farming. Hunger relief was secured only through support from agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, while agricul- tural production increased gradually. How- ever, intensified agricultural production exceeded the natural carrying capacity in some areas, leading to degradation of soil and vegetation cover.

Limited fuelwood resources have been particularly negatively affected by economic transformation. Interruptions of the external fuel supply following the collapse of the Soviet Unionput a heavy strain on forest lands in the Western Pamirs and on slow- growing tereksen shrubs in the Eastern Pamirs, leading to an alarming degree of exploitation and clear-cutting of this vegetation.




Breu, T. and Hurni, H., 2003: The Tajik Pamirs: Challenges of Sustainable Development in an Isolated Mountain Region. Berne: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Berne. 80 pp.


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