Pasture expansion has been one of the most significant challenges the world has faced for conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. It's been a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon and degradation of many of the world’s natural grasslands, releasing vast amounts of carbon stored in soils and plants into the atmosphere.
The problem has been getting worse for centuries. Since the 1700s, an area nearly the size of North America has been converted to pasture. But in the last 20 years, something remarkable has occurred, something few predicted: the amount of land devoted to grazing animals to produce meat and milk has begun to shrink across the world.
A new essay from Dan Blaustein-Rejto explains why, how, and ways to ensure the downward trend continues.