During the past 40 years, the Syrian rangelands have been the focal point of government interventions. These had four major components: assertion of state ownership over rangelands, settlement and transformation of herders into farmers, formal reorganisation of the Bedouin population into range improvement and sheep husbandry cooperatives, and development of rangeland reserves. Each of these interventions has had many implications for livestock production, on rangeland management as well as on the livelihood strategies of herding households and communities.
In 1994, the Syrian government took a major decision by banning cultivation in rangelands and committed itself to enhancing livestock production through better conservation, improvement and management of rangeland resources. The ban on cultivation, which is transforming sheep production systems and livelihood strategies of herding communities, is forcing herding communities to devise new strategies for overcoming their production constraints. Under present range conditions, it is clear that herding communities cannot stay there all year round and have, necessarily, to seek alternative feed resources. This article asks the questions: are herding communities likely to revert to old Bedouin livestock production systems based on trans‐humance and reciprocity or will they opt to use more individualistic and market‐based feed resources? Are feed access strategies differentiated by livestock ownership? How will these changes affect their production systems and livelihood strategies?