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Past intensification trajectories of livestock led to mixed social and environmental services

  • J. P. Domingues (a1) (a2), A. H. Gameiro (a2), T. Bonaudo (a1), B. Gabrielle (a3) and M. Tichit (a1)...

Abstract

Recent studies highlighted the multiple positive and negative contributions of livestock to society. Livestock production, through its direct and indirect impacts on land use, is an important driver of services provision. Although a few studies provide an account on the multiple services in different livestock systems, there is still an important knowledge gap on the drivers that contribute to the differentiation of services provisioning across areas. We investigated the hypothesis that the current level of services has derived from past intensification trajectories of livestock. The objective of this study was to understand the influences of past changes in livestock, land-use and socio-economic variables on the current provision of social, environmental and cultural services by the livestock sector in France. We combined a long-term country-wide database on livestock intensification between 1938 and 2010 and a database on services provisioning in 2010. We used a set of multivariate methods to simultaneously analyse the changes in livestock intensification from 1938 to 2010 and the current level of services provisioning. Our analysis focused on a set of 60 French departments where livestock play a significant economic role in agricultural production. Our study revealed that the provision of services was spatially structured and based on three groups of departments, characterised by different rates of change in intensification variables. In the first group, ‘Intensive livestock areas’, the high level of employment in the livestock sector was mainly associated with high rates of change in monogastric stocking rates (+1045%) and milk productivity (+451%). In the second group, ‘Extensive livestock areas’, the high levels of environmental and cultural services were mainly associated with moderate rates of change in herbivores stocking rate (+95%) and the stability of grassland area (+13%). In the third group, ‘Transition areas’, the low provision of all services was associated with the decline in livestock due to crop expansion. This study provides knowledge to understand how past changes determined the current contribution of livestock areas in providing differentiated bundles of services, which might help steer the development of the current livestock sector towards more sustainable trajectories.

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