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CR 77:91-97 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01555

OPINION PIECE
Intensifying pastoralism may not reduce greenhouse gas emissions: wildlife-dominated landscape scenarios as a baseline in life-cycle analysis

P. Manzano1,2,*, S. R. White3,4

1Commission on Ecosystem Management, International Union for Conservation of Nature, PO Box 68200 - 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
2Asociación Biomas, 28028 Madrid, Spain
3Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, CW 405 Biological Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
4InnoTech Alberta, 250 Karl Clark Road, Edmonton, AB T6N 1E4, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The general public is increasingly critical of extensive, ruminant-dominated systems for their attributed high greenhouse gas emissions. However, advocates of low input, grass-fed systems present them as paradigmatic sustainable production systems because of their biodiversity, land use, rural development and animal welfare benefits. We reconcile both analyses by proposing to assess baseline emissions in grazed ecosystems. We show that policies aiming at transitioning grass-fed systems towards fodder-based (concentrate- or grain-based) systems can be ineffective at reducing emissions because wild ruminants or termites fill livestock's ecological niche. Climate change policies targeting livestock should carefully evaluate derived emissions scenarios.


KEY WORDS: GHG emissions · Livestock · Climate policy · Emission scenarios · Rangelands · Wild herbivores


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Cite this article as: Manzano P, White SR (2019) Intensifying pastoralism may not reduce greenhouse gas emissions: wildlife-dominated landscape scenarios as a baseline in life-cycle analysis. Clim Res 77:91-97. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01555

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