Rangelands cover 69% of the world’s agricultural land and around 40% of all global land surfaces, providing habitats for domestic livestock, and a diversity of wild plants and animals. However, a general perception exists that there is unfavourable competition between wildlife and livestock production. This view has led to policies and programmes that increasingly segregate the two sectors, often resulting in political and economic conflict between pastoralists and others.
As global incomes rise, demand is accelerating for livestock products such as meat, dairy and fibres, leading to strong economic incentives to intensify livestock production in the rangelands. Livestock intensification is also promoted as a means to prevent destruction of natural habitat. However, recent research shows that intensification is increasingly degrading extensive pastures and rangelands, and can lead to loss of biodiversity with impacts on both wildlife management and pastoralism, in high income as well as low income countries. Intensive livestock production generates higher levels of green house gases and nutrient pollution compared to extensive pastoralism. Intensively produced meats have higher fat content, leading to greater concerns over human health in developed and developing countries.