Environmental impacts of grassland management and livestock production

Susanne Rolinski, Isabelle Weindl, Jens Heinke, Benjamin L Bodirsky, Anne Biewald, Hermann Lotze-Campen


The potential of grasslands to sequester carbon and provide feed for livestock production depends on the one hand on climatic conditions but secondly on management and grazing pressure. Using a global vegetation model considering different management and grazing options, effects of livestock density on primary productivity can be assessed. It is expected that low animal densities enhance productivity whereas increasing grazing pressure may deteriorate grass plants. Thus, the optimal animal density depend on the specific primary production of the pasture and optimal grazing intensity. Using these optimal grass yields, the impacts of livestock production on resource use is assessed by applying the global land use model MAgPIE. This model integrates a detailed representation of the livestock sector and integrates socio-economic regional information with spatially explicit biophysical data. With scenario analysis we analyze the impact of livestock production on future deforestation and land use. Our results indicate that the reduction of animal derived calory demand has a huge potential to spare land for nature and reduce deforestation. On the supply side, feeding efficiency gains can help to decrease demand for land and overall biomass requirements.

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You can refer to a paper published in this series in the following format Author (2013) Title. FACCE MACSUR Reports 2: D-C1.3, where "D-C1.3" is the article ID en lieu of page range.