Sustainability Research in Spotlight: Pastoralism and Sustainable Livestock

10.11.2021
Pablo Manzano studies pastoralism and sustainable livestock and the ways to incorporate them into a more sustainable world.

Pablo Manzano, a postdoctoral researcher at HELSUS, does research on sustainable livestock production and the sustainable aspects of pastoralist livelihoods.

According to Manzano, pastoralist livelihoods have been considered as primitive since the beginning of the industrial revolution. They are low input and therefore also low output systems, meaning they have low production impacts but do not produce much food per animal. Pastoralist livelihoods are nowadays marginalised and largely replaced by more productive but less sustainable systems.

Manzano’s research explores particularly how to incorporate the best of pastoralist livelihoods into a more sustainable world.

25-60% of the emergent land on earth is occupied by livestock, most of it being extensive. Extensive livestock production is characterized by low inputs, relying on natural resources, and utilizing the mobility of animals. This is called pastoralism.

According to Manzano, many actions of livestock on the landscape are natural, for example keeping certain types of natural landscape open without having so much forest.

“I would like also people to understand better that the greenhouse gases emitted by the most sustainable livestock types are parts of the natural ecosystem and in that sense, we cannot consider them man-made, and we probably cannot avoid them either”, Manzano explains.

He thinks that science is often misunderstood by the public, as people take complex realities as simple truths. For instance, there are many campaigns to reduce meat consumption, but no differentiation between the types of meat or livestock keeping types is made, even though they can be very different.

Manzano says that in the same way as in livestock production, very sustainable and very unsustainable production systems exist within plant production, too.

“The most sustainable livestock production is probably much more sustainable than any plant production. But the worst livestock production is much worse than the worst plant production”, he states.

Find out more about the topic by watching the video below.

HELSUS Research in Spot­light – new video series!

HELSUS Research in Spotlight video series aims at opening up what sustainability research can be about. Sustainability science is inter- and transdisciplinary field of research covering a variety of research topics, approaches, and theories. The new HELSUS video series gives a voice to sustainability scientists and different perspectives of sustainability. We start with eight videos in which HELSUS members introduce their valuable research. In the following weeks, we will introduce one researcher and research per week. We hope that these videos enlighten your autumn and give food for thought!