Land & Water

Principles for the assessment of livestock impacts on biodiversity

Livestock production is widespread around the world, with up to 26% of terrestrial areas  dedicated to rangelands and 33% of croplands dedicated to fodder production. Demand for  livestock products is projected to grow 1.3% per annum until 2050 (although these estimates  vary), driven by a combination of global population growth, changes in patterns of food  consumption due to increasing wealth and urbanization (Alexandratos and Bruinsma, 2012).  The influence of livestock production on biodiversity is therefore obvious, although the exact  effects are diverse. Whether livestock yields a positive or negative impact on biodiversity will  very dependent on the intensity of production, the nature of specific practices, the livestock species used, and the local ecological conditions. Livestock pressures on biodiversity are manifested through, for example, conversion of natural habitats, land use change, impacts on water quality and quantity, as well as contributions to climate change. The quantitative assessment of the impacts of livestock systems and other sectors on biodiversity is an emerging area of work that meets a growing demand to expand sustainability assessments to include biodiversity. This document represents an initial step where international experts shared their views on biodiversity assessment. This work is clearly at an early stage, and should be considered as preparatory work for future and more detailed guidance on biodiversity assessment within livestock systems. This document identifies a number of broad principles to assist stakeholders in the assessment of livestock impacts on biodiversity. Part II contains a state-of-the-art introduction to Life Cycle Assessment approaches for biodiversity, with a major emphasis on the land use impacts associated with livestock systems. Part III addresses the use of the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) indicator approach to assess biodiversity within livestock systems. An overview of these two approaches is presented in Section 2.2. 

Source (link)
Integrated biophysical and socio-economic/negotiated approaches/tools
Thematic areas
Agriculture - productivity
User Category
Technical specialist, Scientific advisor, Policy maker