Asghar has been working at the forefront of Iran’s most important governmental support system for natural resource management, the Forest Rangeland and Watershed Management Organization. He believes that, “nature and environment are reacting to our misuse and management of resources by increasing natural disasters such as flood, drought and temperature extremes. The next generation will suffer even more if we don't correct our interaction with the environment”. After working in a national organization for several years, he got involved in a local NGO which offered him the opportunity to work and deal with people at the grassroots level. Comparing his work in the NGO to his previous experience with the government, he says: “I realized that there is more than bureaucratic and technical knowledge for proper management of natural resources, and I tried to adjust my research to this realization”. Asghar strongly believes in the knowledge and capacity of local communities and involving them in decision making processes as a key factor for successful sustainable natural resource management.
The JWH Initiative supported Asghar in his studies in which he evaluates several management schemes for nomadic rangelands using participatory assessment approaches. According to him, this was a turning point, because the grant gave him the chance to work closely with the nomads. “In civil service you see things from the top,” Asghar notes, but “Working with the nomads directly, well, it changed my perspective, and I came to understand their side of the issue”. The experience from this study has encouraged him to further his understanding of nomadic life in his current PhD research by analyzing the adaption methods of the Iranian pastoral nomads to increasing pressure from socio-political and environmental changes.
He is currently working as a researcher at the University of Bonn in Germany, finalizing his PhD dissertation on the vulnerability of pastoral nomads. The JWH grant enabled him to gain the capacity, skill and the confidence of working as individual researcher to design and conduct his own research. Asghar believes that " scientists and social actors must first and foremost learn from this traditional wisdom, and combine indigenous knowledge and modern science. He says there are no blueprints on how to address environmental changes, since the environment and the challenges are different in each place, but: “I believe that the answer lies in understanding and supporting the local initiatives. The nomads, for example, have developed several strategies for addressing the impact of climate stress. Policy interventions therefore can be drawn from their knowledge and capacities”.