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Newsletter 07

Predicting land use dynamics in the neotropics: the role of livestock in the deforestation process

Land used for extensive grazing in the neotropics has increased continuously over the past decades and most of this increase has been at the expense of forests. Ranching-induced deforestation is one of the main causes of loss of some unique plant and animal species in the tropical rainforests of Central America and South America as well as carbon release in the atmosphere. Although the driving forces changed, this process is known to be still ongoing, while more and more evidence is becoming available on the often unsustainable use this represents. With time productivity declines and severe degradation problems occur.

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Cattle and the Amazon

Brazil has the second biggest herd of cattle in the world, with 160 million head, and the biggest commercial herd on the planet. Thus, we raise the following question: are these data worth the negative environmental impact caused by this activity? We obviously need to supply the population's demand for animal protein, but...?

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Geographical trends in livestock densities and nutrient balances in South, East and South-east Asia

Under growing and urbanising demand, livestock production is rapidly evolving in South, East and South-east Asia, with both an increase of production and a shift to intensive production systems. These changes infer impacts on the environment, on public health and on rural development. Phosphate overloads are estimated on 23.6% of this region’s agricultural land, mainly located in eastern China, the Ganges basin and around urban centres such as Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. On average, livestock manure is estimated to account for 39.4% of the agricultural P2O5 supply. Livestock is the dominant agricultural source of P2O5 around urban centres and in livestock specialised areas.

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Trends in livestock densities