Transhumance is a term with two accepted usages:
* Older sources use "transhumance" for vertical seasonal
livestockmovement, typically to higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only herds and a subset of people necessary to tend them travel. This is termed "fixed transhumance" below.
* Some recent studies consider
nomadism a form of transhumance, in that livestock move to find available plants for grazingover considerable distances following set seasonal patterns trailed by a whole family of herders living in temporary or moveable shelters. This is termed "nomadic transhumance" below.
The term derives from the latin "trans" 'across' and "humus" 'ground'. [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/transhumance]
Traditional or fixed transhumance occurs throughout the world, including
Scandinavia, Caucasus, Morocco, France, Italy, Lebanon, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Turkey, the Republic of Macedonia, India, Switzerland, Georgia and Lesotho. It is also practised among more nomadic Sami peopleof Scandinavia. It is often of high importance to pastoralistsocieties, the dairyproducts of transhumance flocks and herds ( milk, butter, yoghurtand cheese) often forming much of the diet of such populations.
field experimentby Dan Eisenberg tested a theory postulating " Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD) is beneficial to a nomadic existence. Following this logic, ADHD is a remnant gene ( DRD4) from human prehistory that has yet to be eliminated through natural selection. ["The misfits", The Economist, volume 387 number 8585, June 14th - 20th 2008 pp98-100 ]
In the past transhumance was widespread throughout Europe and in many other parts of the world.
On the Hebridean Islands and in the Highlands of
Scotland, agricultural workers spent summer months in bothies [ [http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/getent4.php?query=bothy "T. Pennant "Tour in Scotland 1769": "Bothay, a dairy-house, where Highland shepherds, or graziers, live during summer with their herds and flocks, and during that season make butter and cheese."] , Dictionary of the Scots Language, accessed 26 May 2007] or shielings. This has largely died out, but was practised within living memory. Today much transhumance is carried out by truck.
In most parts of
Wales, farm workers and sometimes the farmer would spend the summer months at a hillside summer house or "hafod" ( IPA|/ˈhævɔd/) where the livestock would graze. Then during the late autumn they would return down to the valleys with the farm workers staying at the main residence or "hendre" (IPA|/ˈheːndrɛ/). [http://www.tal-y-bont.org/uploads/130_213low.pdf] This system of transhumance has not been practised for almost a century although it did continue in Snowdoniaafter it died out elsewhere in Wales. [ [http://www.hafodelwyhall.co.uk/history.html history of hafod elwy hall ] ] Both Hafod and Hendre survive as frequent place and house names in Wales. Today, cattle and sheep on many hill farms are still often transported to lowland winter pastures, but now by truck.
Balkans, the Sarakatsani, Aromaniansand Yörükstraditionally spent summer months in the mountains and returned to lower plains in the winter. Until the mid-20th century, borders between Greece, Albania, Bulgariaand Yugoslavia were relatively unobstructed. In summer, some groups went as far north as the Balkan mountainswhile winter they would spend in warmer plains in vicinity of the Aegean sea. The Morlachswere a population of Vlach shepherds who lived in the Dinaric Alps(western Balkansin modern use), constantly migrating in search for better pastures for their sheep flocks. But as national states appeared in a former domain of the Ottoman empire, new state borders came to separate summer and winter habitats of many of the pastoral groups.
Scandinavia, transhumance is still practised, although arrival of motorized vehicles has changed its character. Common mountain or forest pasture used for transhumance in summer is called "seter" or "bod" / "bua". The same term is used for a mountain cabin which was used as a summer residence. In summer (usually late June), livestockis moved to a mountain farm, often quite distant from a home farm, preserving meadows in valleys for use as hay. Livestock were typically tended for summer by girls and younger women, who milked and made cheese. Bulls usually remain at the home farm. As autumn approaches, once grazing is in short supply, livestock are returned to a home farm.
Sweden, this system was predominantly used in Värmland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Jämtland, Hälsingland, Medelpadand Ångermanland.
It was common to most regions in
Norwaydue to its highly mountainous nature. "The Gudbrandsdalarea includes lateral valleys such as Gausdal, Heidal, Vinstradal, and Ottadal. That area comprises lowland parishes 200 m above sea-leveland mountain parishes 800 m above sea-level, fertile soil in the main valley and barren summits in Rondane and Dovrefjell. Forests surround those farms, but higher up, woods give way to a treeless mountain plateau. This is the "seterfjell", or summer farm region, once of vital importance both as summer pastureland and for haymaking” (Reference: Welle-Strand).
While previously many farms had their own seter, today it is more usual for several farmers to share a modernized common seter ("fellesseter"). Most of those old seters have been left to decay or are used as cabins.
The name for the common mountain pasture in most Scandinavian languages derives from the
old Norseterm "setr". In (Norwegian) the term is "sæter" or "seter", in (Swedish) "säter". The place name appears in Swedenin several forms "Säter" and "Sätra" and as a suffix: -"säter", -"sätra", -"sätt" and -"sättra". Those names appear extensively over Sweden with a centre in the Mälarenbasin and in Östergötland.
In the heartland of the Swedish transhumance region the most used term is "bod" or "bua" (the word still existing in English as "both"), nowadays standarized to "fäbod".
Transhumance in the
Pyreneesinvolves relocation of livestock (cows, sheep, horses) to high mountains for summer months, because farms in the lowland are too small to support a larger herd all year round. Their mountain period starts in late May and early June, and ends in early October. Until the 1970s transhumance concerned mainly dairy cows, and cheesemaking was important activity. In some regions up until this century, nearly all members of a family decamped to higher mountains with their cows, living in rudimentary stone cabins. That system, which evolved during the Middle Ages, lasted into the 20th century, but broke down under pressure from industrializationwith concomitant depopulation of countryside.
The traditional economy of the
Alpswas based on rearing cattle. Seasonal migration between valley and high pastures was critical in feeding an increased number of cattle and supporting a higher human population. That practice has shaped a lot of landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 2000 m would be forests.
While tourism and industry contribute today much to Alpine economy, seasonal migration to high pastures is still practised in
Bavaria, Austriaand Switzerland, except in their most frequented tourist centers. In some places, cattle are taken care of by local farmer families who move to higher places. In others, this job is for herdsmen employed by the cooperative owning the pastures. Austriahas over 12 000 sites where 70 000 farmers take care of about 500 000 cattle. Alpine pastures amount to a quarter of the farmland. Bavariahas about 1400 sites hosting 50 000 cattle, about half of them in Upper Bavariaand the other half in the Allgäu.
In Switzerland, about 380 000 cattle including 130 000 cows as well as 200 000 sheep are in summer on high pastures. Milk from cows here is usually made into local
cheesespecialities, handmade using traditional methods and tools. Alpine pastures amount to 35% of Swiss farmland. Transhumance contributes much to traditional Swiss culture, for example yodeling, alphornand Schwingen(wrestling) are closely connected to Alpine pastures.
England– where climate is mild and hills low – transhumance historically took the opposite form to that in Switzerland. Cattle grazed on dry, sandy heathon the hills in winter and rich, low-lying flood-meadows in summer once flood-water recededFact|date=November 2007 . The Weald, as another example, was utilised for the grazing of pigs; this type was known as pannage. While this form of pastoralism sees little use today, it has left its mark on English toponymy, as attested by nearby paired placenames such as "Winterfold Heath" and "Somersbury Wood". [cite book
title =Surrey Place-names
publisher =Heart of Albion Press
id = ISBN 1-872883-84-2 ]
In the southern Appalachians, livestock, especially sheep, were often pastured on
grassy baldmountain tops where wild oats predominate. There is some speculation that these balds are remnants of ancient bison grazing lands (possibly maintained to some extent by early Amerindians). In the absence of transhumance, these balds have been receding in recent decades and may require some form of transhumance to conserve these unique ecosystems.
Traditional economy of the
Basothoin Lesothois based on rearing cattle. Seasonal migration between valley and high plateaus of the Maloti( basaltmountains of Lesotho) is critical in feeding an increased number of cattle and supporting a higher human population. Pressure on pasture land has increased due to construction of large storage dams in these mountains to provide water to South Africa's arid industrial heartland.
While tourism is starting to contribute to the economy of Lesotho, and more people are moving permanently into Highlands there, seasonal migration still augments this trend. Seasonal migration is part of the job of herdsmen who are employees of farmers who own herds in Lesotho. Growing pressure on pastures is contributing to degradation of sensitive grasslands and could contribute to sedimentation in man-made lakes.
Examples of fixed transhumance are found in the
North Governorateof Lebanon. Towns and villages located in the Qadishavalley are at an average altitude of 1,400 meters. Some settlements, like Ehdenand Kfarsghab, are used during summer periods from beginning of June till mid-October. Inhabitants move in October to coastal towns situated at an average of 200 metersabove sea level. The transhumance is motivated by agricultural activities ( historically by the mulberry silkwormculture). The main crops in the coastal towns are olive, grapeand citrus. For the mountain towns, the crops are summer fruits, mainly applesand pears. Other examples of transhumance exist in Lebanon.
nomadic groups settle into a regular seasonal pattern, which has been described by some anthropologists as a form of transhumance. An example of a normal transhumance cycle in the northern hemisphere is:
* Spring (early April to the end of June) — transition
* Summer (end of June to late September) — a higher plateau
* Autumn (mid-September to end of November) — transition
* Winter (from December to the end of March) —
The movements in this example are about 180 to 200 km. Camps are established in the same place each year; often semi-permanent shelters are built in at least one place on this migration route.
By contrast, pastoral nomads follow a seasonal migratory pattern which varies from year to year depending on grazing needs. Such nomadic societies create no permanent settlements, but live in tents or other movable dwellings the year round. Pastoralist nomads are often self-sufficient, producing their own food, shelter and other needs.
Nomadic transhumance was historically widespread throughout less fertile regions of
Earth. It is found in areas of low rainfallsuch as the Middle Eastern Bedouins and the African Somali peopleor in areas of harsh climate, such as the Arctic Sami people, Nenets peopleand Chukchis.
There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. [ [http://www.newint.org/issue266/facts.htm NOMADS - The FACTS] ] Seminomadic pastoralists and pastoral nomads form a significant but declining minority in such countries as
Saudi Arabia(probably less than 3%), Iran(4%), and Afghanistan(at most 10%). They comprise less than 2% of the population in the countries of North Africaexcept Libyaand Mauritania. [Dale Eickelman, The Middle East and Central Asia. An Anthropological Approach. Fourth Edition. Prentice Hall, 2002, p. 11]
Mongolsin what is now Mongolia, Russiaand China, and the Tatarsor Turkic peopleof Eastern Europeand Central Asiawere nomadic peoples who practised nomadic transhumance on harsh Asian steppes. Some remnants of these populations are nomadic to this day. In Mongolia, about 40% of the population continues to live traditional nomadic lifestyle. [ [http://www.mongoliatoday.com/info/country_briefs.html Mongolia Today - online magazine] ]
The nomadic Sami people, an indigenous people of northern
Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsulaof Russia, practise a form of nomadic transhumance based on reindeer. In the 14th and 15th century, when reindeer population was sufficiently reduced that Sami could not subsist on hunting alone, some Sami, organized along family lines, became reindeer herders. Each family has traditional territories on which they herd, arriving at roughly the same time each season. Only a small fraction of Sami have subsisted on reindeer herding over the past century; as the most colorful part of the population, they are well known. But as elsewhere in Europe, transhumance is dying out.
Mestawas an association of sheep owners ( Spanish nobilityand religious orders) that had an important economical and political role in Medieval Castile. To preserve the rights of wayof its transhumant herds through " cañadas", the Mesta acted against small peasants.
Worldwide transhumance patterns
Transhumance developed on every inhabited continent. Although there are substantial cultural and technological variations, underlying practices for taking advantage of remote seasonal pastures are similar.
Berber peopleof northern Africa were traditional farmers, living in mountains relatively close to the Mediterraneancoast, or oasis dwellers; however, the Tuaregand Zenagaof the southern Sahara practise nomadic transhumance. Some groups, such as the Chaouis, practised fixed transhumance. Maasaiare semi-nomadic people located primarily in Kenyaand northern Tanzaniawho have pastoral transhumance cultures that revolve around their cattle. That dependence was historically very strong, with even huts of the Maasai built from dried cattle dung. They are related to the Zulu, a people who live mainly in South Africawho were also formerly semi-nomadic.
Transhumance, relying on use of public land, continues to be an important source of livestock feed in the western United States. The American tradition was based around moving herds to higher ground with the improvement in highland pastures in spring and summer. It was based on a semi-nomadic
cowboyor the nomadic shepherdwho often traveled with a herd. The Mexican " charro", is a continuation of this tradition to the south.
South American transhumance relies on "cowboy" counterparts, the "
gaucho" of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguayand (with the spelling "gaúcho") southern Brazil, the " llanero" of Venezuela, the " huaso" of Chile.
Transhumance practices are found in temperate areas, above ~1000 m in the
Himalaya– Hindu Kusharea (referred to below as Himalaya); and the cold semi-arid zone north of the Himalaya, through the Tibetan Plateauand northern Chinato the Eurasian Steppe. Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, India, Nepaland Pakistanall have vestigial transhumance cultures. For regions of the Himalayatranshumance still provides mainstay for several near-subsistence economies — for example, that of Zanskarin northwest Indiaand Van Gujjars in Western Himalayas.
Another example of this way of life is the
Bakhtiaritribe of Iran. All along the Zagros mountainrange from Azerbaijan to the Arabian Sea, pastoral tribes move back and forth with their herds every year between their home in the valley and one in the foothills." [Rouhollah Ramazani, The Northern Tie. Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey. D. Van Nostrand Company: New Jersey, 1966, p. 85]
Qashqai- the story of a Turkish tribe of southern Iran
nomads have always been obliged to fight. They lead a wandering life and do not accumulate documents and archives.:But in the evenings, around fires that are burning low, the elders will relate striking events, deeds of valour in which the tribes pride themselves. Thus the epic tale is told from father to son, down through the ages.:The tribes of Central Asia were forced by wars, strife, upheavals, to abandon their steppes and seek new pasture grounds . . . so the Huns, the Visigoths, and before them the Aryans, had invaded India, Iran, Europe.:The Turks, forsaking the regions where they had dwelt for centuries, started moving down through the Turanand Caspiandepressions, establishing themselves eventually on the frontiers of the Iranian Empire and in Asia Minor.:We are of Turkish language and race; some say that we are descendants of the Turkish GhuzzTribe, known for its cruelty and fierceness, and that our name is derived from the Turkish "Kashka" meaning "a horse with a white star on its forehead". Others think this name indicates that we came from Kashgar in the wake of Hulagu. Others still that it means "fugitive".:Though these versions differ, we believe that the arrival of our Tribes in Iran coincided with the conquests of Jengis Khan, in the thirteenth century. Soon after, our ancestors established themselves on the slopes of the Caucasus. We are descendants of the "Tribe of the Ak Koyunlu" the "Tribe of the White Sheep" famed for being the only tribe in history capable of inflicting a defeat on Tamerlane. For centuries we dwelt on the lands surrounding Ardebil, but, in the first half of the sixteenth century we settled in southern Persia, Shah Ismailhaving asked our warriors to defend this part of the country against the intrusions of the Portuguese. Thus, our Tribes came to the Province of Fars, near the Persian Gulf, and are still only separated from it by a ridge of mountains, the Makran.:The yearly migrations of the Kashkai, seeking fresh pastures, drive them from the south to the north, where they move to their summer quarters "Yeilak" in the high mountains; and from the north to the south, to their winter quarters, "Qishlaq".:In summer, the Kashkai flocks graze on the slopes of the Kuh-è-Dinar; a group of mountains from 12,000 to 15,000 feet, that are part of the Zagroschain. :In autumn the Kashkai break camp, and by stages leave the highlands. They winter in the warmer regions near Firuzabad, Kazerun, Jerrè, Farashband, on the banks of the river Mound, till, in April, they start once more on their yearly trek.:The migration is organised and controlled by the Kashkai Chief. The Tribes carefully avoid villages and towns such as Shiraz and Isfahan, lest their flocks, estimated at seven million head, might cause serious damage. The annual migration is the largest of any Persian tribe.:It is difficult to give exact statistics, but we believe that the Tribes now number 400,000 men, women and children." Told to Marie-Tèrése Ullens de Schooten by the 'Il Begh' Malek Mansur, brother of the 'Il Khan', Nasser Khan, Chief of the Kashkai Tribes, in 1953. [Ullens de Schooten, Marie-Tèrése. (1956). Lords of the Mountains: Southern Persia & the Kashkai Tribe. Chatto and Windus Ltd. Reprint: The Travel Book Club. London, pp. 53-54. See also pp. 114-118.]
Kyrgyzstan, transhumance practices, which never died out during the Soviet period, have undergone a resurgence in the difficult economic times following independence in 1991. Transhumance is integral to Kyrgyznational culture. Felt tents used on these summer pastures (or "jailoo") is known as the yurtand its main structural component is symbolised on their national flag. Those shepherds prize fermented mare's milk drink kumis; a tool used in its production lends its name to the country's capital city, Bishkek.
*"Adventure Roads in Norway" by Erling Welle-Strand, Nortrabooks, 1996. ISBN 82-90103-71-9
Seasonal human migration
* [http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/DOCREP/006/Y4856E/y4856e06.htm U.S. Department of Agriculture Discussion on Asia]
* [http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/t6260e/t6260e02.htm U.S. Department of Agriculture Discussion on Africa]
* [http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/roman_africa/TRANSHUM.HTM Transhumance and 'The Waiting Zone' in North Africa]
* [http://www.australianalps.deh.gov.au/publications/cultural-values/pubs/cultural-values.pdf limited traditional transhumance in Australia]
* [http://anthro.palomar.edu/subsistence/sub_3.htm Pastoralism]
* [http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/geography/geog12.htm short mention of transhumance in North America]
* [http://www.alporama.ch Swiss land registry of alpine pastures (German)]
* [http://www.madrid-guide-spain.com/la-transhumancia.html La transhumancia in Madrid Spain]
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