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Published: 07 March 2020

By Andy Ross

The problems for cashmere

Cashmere, that luxurious fibre, is under threat from climate change and overgrazing.

On the Mongolian grasslands, nomadic herders tend large flocks of goats which produce the desirable wool. The wool is often shipped to China where it is mixed with local production, to the detriment of the price and the quality. Cashmere, once the province of the wealthy, is now available to anyone and more is needed to meet increased consumption. Demand from China for more wool has led to more goats, and more grazing animals, especially goats which eat the roots of plants as well as the leaves, mean that degredation of the soils is practically inevitable. In addition, climate change means warmer winters in the region and that means the goats do not need to produce the finer wool to keep themselves warm and dry. 

It seems like the cashmere industry is heading for disaster, as you can see from this story in January 2019 and this one from the BBC this week. A whole way of life is now udner threat. Food for thought for all of us.