Climate-smart silvopastoral systems for a green livestock economyMuhammad Ibrahim, Director, Livestock and Environmental M...
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Learning Event No. 3, Session 2: Ibrahim. ARDD2012 Rio

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Presentation by Muhammad Ibrahim, Director, Livestock and Environmental Management Program, CATIE, Costa Rica, at the 2012 Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) in Rio de Janiero, Learning Event No. 3, Session 2: Climate-smart silvopastoral systems for a green livestock economy. http://www.agricultureday.org

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Learning Event No. 3, Session 2: Ibrahim. ARDD2012 Rio

  1. 1. Climate-smart silvopastoral systems for a green livestock economyMuhammad Ibrahim, Director, Livestock and Environmental Management Program, CATIE, CostaRicaIn many countries of Latin America and other regions, livestock production is important for theagricultural economy and livelihoods of rural families. However, traditional production systemsbased on grass monoculture pastures are very vulnerable to climate change, raising the prospectof significant economic losses and environmental degradation. At the same time, livestock systemshave been criticized for their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.Various organizations, including CATIE, CIAT, and Embrapa, have been working on thedevelopment of climate-smart silvopastoral systems for sustainable cattle production. Thesesystems, involving the integration of trees and/or shrubs with pastures and animals, are able toincrease carrying capacity and animal productivity (by more than 40%), while also enhancingresilience to climate change, as measured in stability of production and income.The use of improved forages in silvopastoral systems for feeding cattle makes possible significantreductions in emissions of methane during enteric fermentation and in CO2 equivalent perkilogram of meat or milk produced in comparison with traditional pasture systems. A life cycleassessment conducted on dairy farms in Costa Rica measured a carbon footprint of 2.2 kg of CO2equivalent per kilogram of milk (corrected for fat) on traditional dairy farms, compared to just 1.1kg on farms with silvopastoral systems.Silvopastoral systems are not only important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but alsocontribute to sequestering significant amounts of carbon (below and above ground) and thereforeare important land-use practices for offsetting emissions (e.g., from enteric fermentation) andthus mitigating climate change.Livestock producers’ organisations and cooperatives in Costa Rica have recently been promotingsilvopastoral systems for the development of carbon-neutral livestock products (meat and milk),and farmers have been investing in expanding silvopastoral systems. A framework is presented foranalyzing trade-offs between economic efficiency and low- emission development of livestocksystems, with the aim of identifying economic frontiers for sustainable, climate-smart silvopastoralsystems.

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