Community Engagement with Pastoralists on the Tibetan Plateau

Maria Lapinski, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
John Kerr, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Rain Liu, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona
Jinhua Zhao, College of Business, Cornell University
Shan Shui Conservation Center

Dr. Maria Lapinski and her colleagues have worked for years with collaborators in China to understand the conservation behaviors and motivations of Tibetan pastoralists, the nomadic herders of yaks and other animals who live on the Tibetan Plateau in a way of life that is tens of thousands of years old. The team has engaged nomadic Tibetans and those who serve them to strengthen conservation practices that can protect the environmental integrity of the Plateau and the livelihoods of its people. 
Lapinski and assistant professor with the University of Arizona, Rain Liu, along with Jinhua Zhao, professor at Cornell University, and John Kerr of MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability, have worked closely with Lu Zhi, founder of the Shan Shui Conservation Center and professor of Conservation Biology at Peking University. 
On field visits to the Plateau, the team listened to and worked with community members and field staff to learn about the issues most important to community members and design appropriate studies. The team also led community-based workshops to introduce conservation practices with the involvement of influential local Tibetans. The project findings and lessons resulted in policy briefs and a set of best practices disseminated through networks, in-person sessions, and social media.