© FAO/Ami VitaleClimate change has direct effects on livestock productivity as well as indirectly through changes on the availability of fodder and pastures. It determines the type of livestock most adapted to different agro-ecological zones and therefore the animals that are able to sustain rural communities. Climate change is expected to affect livestock at the species level.
Livestock emissions throughout the livestock commodity-chains, contribute to 9% of the total anthropogenic carbon-dioxide emission, 37% of methane, and 65% of nitrous oxide. Technical options are available to mitigate emissions of the sector such as restoring organic carbon and carbon sequestration through agro-forestry, improve livestock diets, better manure management, careful nutrient management. The use of biogas technology is a way to reduce emissions from mature management while increasing farm profit, and providing environmental benefits.
FAO can assist in monitoring both the direct (animal genetic resources) and indirect (availability of fodder and pastures) effect of climate change on livestock, provide early warnings to the various climatic zones and assist countries in adapting livestock policies. In addition, FAO can work with farmers who know by experience which types of animal breeds or varieties can best resist changing conditions, to mitigate the negative impact of ruminants on greenhouse gas emissions through recommending animal husbandry changes such as ruminant diets and stocking ratios.
FAO is working on a multidonor project called the Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative. Its purpose is to devise and promote ecologically sustainable livestock production strategies and practices while at the same time being concerned with reducing poverty. LEAD focuses on four broad areas of livestock-environment interactions: the role of livestock in deforestation, the pollution of water and soil through the intensification and geographical concentration of livestock production in rapidly industrializing countries, land degradation and desertification through extensive livestock production systems, and the coexistence and competition of livestock with wildlife.
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