E-Conference on Sustainable Grasslands

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6 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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E
-
Conference

on Sustainable Grasslands

FAO, 2
-
30 September 2013

Introduction

Grasslands are versatile
eco
systems
,

generating a
diverse array

of goods an
d services that
are useful to humankind.
It is widely recognised that grasslands support high quality
livestock produce, chiefly from ruminants. By maximising pastures as the primary diet,
grasslands
provide alternatives to concentrate feed
. This
reduce
s

the inefficient use of
arable land

and inc
reases the food that is directly available for human consumption from
cereals
.

However, g
rasslands also provide a

much
wider

range

o
f ecosystems goods and services that
are often neglected.
In addition to sustaining cultural values and the provision of fruits and
vegetables, grasslands provide critical ecosystems services that regulate, support and
underpin the environment that we live in.
These include

climate regulation, water storage,
nutr
ient cycling,
erosion control,
pollination and
biodiversity
.

Despite their

multiple functions, the potential role of grasslands in addressing environmental
and food security challenges is
often poorly understood and
under
-
valued
. Within

future
population
m
odelling
scenarios for 2050, projections of crop production
have
focus
ed

almost entirely on cereals and food crops (includi
ng intensive animal feed crops). In contrast,
t
h
e contribution of grasslands,

permanent pasture
s
, forage crops and crop residues

(for

integrated systems)

are ignored
.
This is
particularly
surprising
,

given that grasslands and
permanent pastures

amount to 3.5 billion ha globally


more than twice the total area of
croplands.

There is an urgent need to recognize and add value to the multiple ecological functions of
grasslands before large areas of this vital resource are degraded or diverted into agricultural
land.
Therefore, an
overarching goal of this E
-
Conference is to
raise

awareness about the
potential of sustainable grassland management to achieve positive outcomes for the
environment, people and economies.

As a

first

step, this E
-
Conference will

carry out

a
much needed
stocktaking of the curren
t
state of grasslands knowl
edge by

gathering scattered scientific information,
identifying key
data gaps and
prioritising
future research
.

At the same time, we wish to initiate a dialogue
and sharing of best practices for sustainable grassland management amongst experts,
practitione
rs and stakeholders from the
different agro
-
ecological regions

of the world
.

Ultimately, we envision that this process may lead towards building global guidelines for
sustainable grassland management
.




E
-
Conference description

As an input to the E
-
Conference,
we

will present a discussion paper modelling scenarios of
grassland
-
based food production.
The global
model
considers a scenario involving
a
complete
shift to concentrate free livestock production
1
, compared to th
e baseline existing
forecasts for 2050. G
lobal and country
-
level results
predict the impacts on
food and feed
availability, the share of animal products in the human diet and
multiple
environmental
indicators, including
nutrient balance, energy use,

Global

Warming Potential,
land
degradation, deforestation pressure, toxicity, grassland overexploitation and biodiversity
loss.
Based on these

indicators of human, environmental and economic

sustainability
, the
model supports the viability of a shift to grasslan
d
-
based livestock production. Moreover, for
certain scenarios of climate change impacts on expected yields, food security can only be
guaranteed if concentrate feed is significantly reduced.

While these initial results paint a salient picture, to make a m
ore definitive statement it is
necessary
to improve aspects of the model and test our assumptions. Therefore, one of the
direct outcomes of the E
-
Conference
and stocktaking exercise
will be to refine
the 2050
modelling of grassland
-
based food production by

including more complete grasslands
datasets
, as is possible
.

During the first week, discussion will focus on the
potential contribution

of grasslands
for
food security and sustainability.

T
he second week will
take a more
encompassing view of

sustainable
grasslands
management

by
focusing attention on the multiple ecological
functions of grasslands, including the provision of ecosystems services and non
-
productive
values
such as animal health and welfare.

Week three will focus on key challenges in
sustainable grasslands management, including threats from land use change,
overexploitation, desertification and climate change. Week four will
involve sharing and
discussion of best practices
in

sustainable gras
sland management, with a view to outlining
an agenda for developing global guidelines for sustainable grassland management.

Structure

The E
-
Conference will run from 2
-
30 September 2013. A short input paper will be available
10 days in advance, to provide a

common frame for the topics to be addressed

as follows:


Week 1: The potential of grasslands


contribution to food security and sustainability


Week 2: Multiple ecological functions of grasslands


Week 3: Challenges in sustainable grassland management


Week
4: Best practices in grassland management

The E
-
Conference will be facilitated by Soren Moller

(FAO)

and weekly summaries

of
discussions will be
prepared and made
available. Participation is open and f
r
ee. The target
audience are grassland scientists and p
ractitioners.




1
Where ruminants are entirely fed on grasslands and monogastrics are fed with by
-
products from food
production only.