Quantification of uncertainties in global grazing systems assessments

Fetzel T, Havlik P, Herrero M, Kaplan JO, Kastner T, Kroisleitner C, Rolinski S, Searchinger T, et al. (2017). Quantification of uncertainties in global grazing systems assessments. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 31 (7): 1089-1102. DOI:10.1002/2016GB005601.

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Abstract

Livestock systems play a key role in global sustainability challenges like food security and climate change, yet, many unknowns and large uncertainties prevail. We present a systematic, spatially explicit assessment of uncertainties related to grazing intensity (GI), a key metric for assessing ecological impacts of grazing, by combining existing datasets on a) grazing feed intake, b) the spatial distribution of livestock, c) the extent of grazing land, and d) its net primary productivity (NPP). An analysis of the resulting 96 maps implies that on average 15% of the grazing land NPP is consumed by livestock. GI is low in most of worlds grazing lands but hotspots of very high GI prevail in 1% of the total grazing area. The agreement between GI maps is good on one fifth of the world's grazing area, while on the remainder it is low to very low. Largest uncertainties are found in global drylands and where grazing land bears trees (e.g., the Amazon basin or the Taiga belt). In some regions like India or Western Europe massive uncertainties even result in GI > 100% estimates. Our sensitivity analysis indicates that the input-data for NPP, animal distribution and grazing area contribute about equally to the total variability in GI maps, while grazing feed intake is a less critical variable. We argue that a general improvement in quality of the available global level datasets is a precondition for improving the understanding of the role of livestock systems in the context of global environmental change or food security.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: uncertainty; grazing intensity; net primary production; animal distribution; livestock grazing; grazing area; global livestock systems
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2017 09:13
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017 08:15
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/14676

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