Greener Pastures

Source: University of California, Santa Barbara

When it comes to animal farming, free range isn’t always better. That’s according to a UC Santa Barbara environmental scholar whose research suggests that raising cattle in high densities on designated pastures could be better in the long run — and preserve more natural habitat — than allowing them unfettered access to farmland.  

It is a complex concept — using less land while maximizing yield — that David Williams, a postdoctoral scholar in UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, explores in his paper, “Land-use strategies to balance livestock production, biodiversity conservation and carbon storage in Yucatán, Mexico.” The paper is published in Global Change Biology, a journal that focuses on environmental trends. 

“Wildlife-friendly agriculture is obviously good for the environment, but it requires twice as much land,” Williams said, referring to operations that let livestock roam freely in pastures or woods. “Understanding the full impacts of different kinds of food production is quite difficult. And telling people that wildlife-friendly agriculture may be worse for the environment seems extremely counterintuitive.”

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Edhat Staff

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