A new report by the United Nations has added credence to the view that sustainable grazing and pasture management can significantly contribute to the fight against global climate change. Entitled, “Review on Evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change,” this paper offers much-needed discussion about the role that pasture can play in our efforts to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve these important carbon-sequestering ecosystems.
Pasturelands are under increasing pressure from development, salinization, overgrazing and transition to annual cropping for grain production (much of which goes to livestock feed). However, if properly managed they represent a carbon sink that could be even greater than forests.
From the FAO website: “Covering some 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land surface and accounting for 70 percent of its agricultural land, the world’s 3.4 billion ha of grasslands can also play a major role in supporting the adaptation and reducing the vulnerability to climate change of over one billion people who depend on livestock for a living.” This is a ringing endorsement for the practices used in outdoor, pasture-based production – they not only produce healthier, safer, tastier food, but can play a vital role in repairing our ecosystems as well.