By: Barry Perryman, SRM Director
In late September and early October of 2019, SRM members Brad Shultz, Eric Thacker, and myself were invited to Samarkand State University in Uzbekistan for the purpose of spreading the profession of rangeland ecology and management. In April of 2019, Uzbekistan lawmakers passed their equivalent of our Taylor Grazing Act and we were tasked to provide a history of American environmental policy as it relates to rangelands. Now that they have a law, they need policy to implement the law. We were privileged to speak to 20-25 policy makers eager to learn about our experiences, rangeland ecology, and what elements make good policy. We spent two full days providing these tools for their consideration.
The following two weeks were spent teaching a rangeland ecology and management short course to over twenty Samarkand State University graduate students. This was the first of its kind for Uzbekistan and the students were eager. It was a real experience watching Brad Schultz teach seven hours of plant physiology and growth, followed by a two-hour barrage of questions by enthusiastic students. The mental stamina they displayed was incredible!
Eric Thacker led the field sampling component as we measured plant density and cover at one of Uzbekistan’s sagebrush (Artemisia diffusa) dominated ecological sites.
The field work was followed up by a great meal at the rancher’s home: mutton stew, fresh salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and dill), shashlik, Samarkand bread, and desert melons and grapes. Central Asian cuisine has been one of my favorites for many years now.
One of our discussions with the University Rector led to the dream of developing an SRM accredited rangeland ecology and management program at Samarkand State University. Making this dream come true will be a challenging effort, but one of great value to our profession. It was a pleasure to represent our profession and SRM to government and university officials in Uzbekistan, and we look forward to increasing our collaborations and interactions with our colleagues in Samarkand and the wonderful people of Uzbekistan.