Grazing systems expansion and intensification: Drivers, dynamics, and trade-offs
This article in the journal Global Food Security discusses the dynamics, drivers and trade-offs of grazing system expansion and intensification. Grazing systems dynamics are driven by a complex combination of socio-economic, political and environmental contexts. Although the drivers and dynamics can be highly location-specific, the research focuses on describing global trends as well as trends by agro-ecological, socio-economic and political contexts. Global grasslands have expanded in area over the last decades. A decreasing trend has however been observed since the 21st century. Grazing systems’ management has also intensified. While these dynamics can have socio-economic and environmental benefits, they have often led to unsustainable systems, exemplified by deforestation and land degradation. Opportunities for land expansion without damaging forests and natural ecosystems are increasingly limited around the world and future increases in grazing systems production will need to mainly come from increases in productivity per animal and per unit area. The authors highlight some priority research areas and issues for policy makers to consider to help the movement towards more sustainable systems.