Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

Transdisciplinary science in Israel Negev Highlands LTSER platform: Investigating Camel grazing in protected areas

23 May 2022

How can nature conservation be combined with the Bedouin shepherds' traditions? To answer this question, we've collected a diverse group of experts from academia and civil society to consider dimensions ranging from ecological impact of grazing to the meaning of 'natural'.

Through discussions with Bedouin shepherds, Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) representatives, and legal experts, we aim to find collaborative, equitable solutions to this seemingly intractable socio-ecological challenge.

Platform scientists, including experts in geology, anthropology, geomorphology, hydrology, ecology, botany, zoology, and social ecology, toured the region of the Negev Highlands Reserve where cultural traditions and nature conservation are coming into conflict. They were accompanied by a camel herder, who had been fined for grazing his camels in the reserve, and his lawyer.

During the tour, various insights emerged from the encounter, particularly regarding the lack of knowledge pertaining to actual impact of camel grazing in the reserve, and further issues were raised regarding definitions of 'nature' and 'natural', what constitutes 'ecological integrity' of the reserve, and what are the trade-offs in preservation versus traditional uses of the desert ecosystem.

The next meeting will be between the platform scientific committee and NPA representatives. These meetings will assist in identifying knowledge gaps and designing a research agenda for platform scientists that can eventually yield results directly relevant to the current conflict, in hopes of contributing to the creation of just policy solutions that address the needs of both ecological conservation and social equity.

Photo from the event at the Negev Highlands LTSER platform