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Livestock density (areas of concern)

Given the massive scale of livestock production systems, it is unlikely that any other single human activity has a larger environmental impact on the terrestrial land mass of the planet. As the world’s largest user of land, livestock production has a huge footprint, affecting many components of the global environment. In many developing countries, the per-capita consumption of livestock foodstuffs is projected to continue to rise. This layer displays the areas of concern for livestock density related issues, derived from the convergence of global evidence of human-environment interactions. The density of livestock is related to environmental pressures from livestock related land use change, grazing lands and fodder production, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Cherlet, M., Hutchinson, C., Reynolds, J., Hill, J., Sommer, S., von Maltitz, G. (Eds.), World Atlas of Desertification, Publication Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018.


Livestock feed is often grown far from the rearing place, hence the environmental impact of high livestock density is not necessarily local. Concerns can be validated or dismissed only by evaluating them within their local biophysical, social, economic and political contexts. Local context provides an understanding of causes and consequences of degradation, but also offers guidance for efforts to control or reverse it.

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