Video: Palden Tsering on hybrid land governance in Amdo Tibet

Palden Tsering has been working with pastoralists in Amdo Tibet for his doctoral research with the PASTRES programme. In this short video, he discusses his findings.

In Amdo Tibet, various models have been proposed for the governance and tenure of rangelands. These include private, common and state property systems. However, in practice, the arrangements on the ground are often ‘hybrid’ ones, which don’t conform to the standard models proposed in policy.

The studies in Amdo Tibet have been carried out in the areas of Golok and Kokonor. Golok is around 4200m above sea level, with the ethnic composition made up mainly of Tibetans. Yaks are the most common livestock there, and the area is also known for the caterpillar fungus that grows on hillsides, highly valued for its medicinal properties. The nearest township centre for pastoralists is more than 70km away, but in terms of state investment there is only a small-scale tourism centre.

The other research site, Kokonor, lies only 4km from a township centre. The provincial government has invested in the area as a tourist hotspot, linked to a proposed Lake National Park. The area is more ethnically diverse, and religion plays a major role in pastoral life, especially when it comes to responding to uncertainty.

Palden’s research has explored the spaces for negotiation and contestation around land control and access to resources. An important factor is the involvement of multiple institutions in pastoral land governance – including state, religious and community institutions.

The reality of ‘hybrid’ land governance in Amdo Tibet challenges the way that policies are conceived and designed, and how land is managed.

Find out more

The online exhibition Seeing Pastoralism includes a section on the study in Amdo Tibet, including photographs from the field, video recordings, and photovoice stories created by pastoralists themselves.

Dharma on the left, conservation on the right (

Previous blog posts on Amdo Tibet

Institutional hybridity in pastoral land governance in Tibet

How contrasting pastoral institutions influence reliance on credit loans in Tibet, China

Negotiating uncertainties on the Tibetan plateau in China

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