Conversion to farmland and pasture for livestock is the main driver of deforestation around the world. In Latin America alone it is directly responsible for 71% of all deforestation, according to a statement from the University of East Anglia. In addition, the expansion of grasslands is the main driver of deforestation in the area since the 1970s, says the statement consulted by NotiPress. To address the situation, researchers suggest that consuming sustainably sourced bushmeat, rather than domesticated livestock, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This, in turn, would help the conservation of tropical forest systems, mitigating the effects of climate change, they explain in a study in the journal Scientific Reports.
His research was based on the study of 150 thousand inhabitants of the Amazonian and African forests, in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. The authors calculated that an annual per capita consumption of 41.7 kilograms of bushmeat would save 71 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, as a substitute for beef. The savings would be 3 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent if replaced by poultry. For these tropical forest dwellers alone, this could generate $ 3 million or $ 185,000 per year in carbon credit revenue.
According to the researchers, tropical forest populations who consume bushmeat instead of beef, poultry or other domesticated animal meat generate a much smaller carbon footprint, by reducing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with livestock. These results point to the potential value and importance of considering sustainable hunting in greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Unsustainable hunting can have cascading effects that suppress the long-term carbon storage capacity of natural forests, the authors acknowledge. For this reason, it is essential to ensure the sustainable consumption of bushmeat for socially vulnerable populations, in terms of food security and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Similar to this study, many others analyze the impact of consuming meat to improve livestock practices, in order to obtain a positive impact on combating climate change. On different occasions, the benefit of organic meat production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been mentioned. However, a study published in the journal Nature Communications calculated roughly the same gas emissions in the organic meat production process compared to the conventional process. This is due to the slower growth rate of organic livestock, which reduces the carbon savings obtained by dispensing with fertilizers.
It has also been mentioned as a strategy to combat climate change to eliminate the consumption of meat. However, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, this recommendation has a bias towards the reality of western industrialized countries. According to the researchers, this strategy overlooks the critical but more positive role of livestock in ecosystems. It also ignores its role in the economy and other systemic issues of raising livestock in low- and middle-income countries.
Given the current state of climate change, it is urgent to find measures that help mitigate its catastrophic effects by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Part of the reduction efforts could take place through modifying livestock practices, giving priority to the consumption of bushmeat in communities where it is possible to replace domesticated livestock.