Abstract for:Modeling Coupled Human and Natural Systems in Banni Grassland, India, for Multi-Stakeholder Engagement and Consensus Building

Tropical grasslands are widely misconceived to be degraded forests or wastelands, to be converted to industry or planted up for carbon sequestration. One such grassland is in India, the Banni, an area of approximately 2500 sq. km located in the district of Kachchh, Gujarat, which has been significantly transformed by misconceived notions of grasslands as wastelands. This has lead to policy decisions like the introduction of the alien invasive woody species Prosopis juliflora. P. juliflora, which has invaded more than half of the Banni, has drastically reduced the availability of grasslands for livestock. This has severely affected the predominant way of life of the Banni, i.e., semi-nomadic pastoralism. In addition, there are other associated on going changes that are rapidly transforming Banni. In this view the objective of this ongoing research project is to develop a system dynamics based multi-stakeholder decision support system to help multiple stakeholders come together for identifying more inclusive/holistic management plans for sustainability of the Banni grasslands. The proposed DSS will work as an insight-builder,  and not a forecasting tool, to enable stakeholders to better understand the driving forces of Banni. This paper presents the work in progress and shows the dynamic hypothesis evolved through a process of participatory modeling.