Multi-scale scenarios of spatial-temporal dynamics in the European livestock sector

K. Neumann, P.H. Verburg, B.S. Elbersen, E. Stehfest, G.B. Woltjer

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The European livestock sector has changed rapidly in the recent past and further changes are expected in the near future due to reforms in the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), increasing environmental concerns and changing consumer awareness. We developed a multi-scale modeling approach for exploring spatial and temporal dynamics of livestock distribution by accounting for drivers at different spatial scales. Such approach can provide a basis for environmental impact assessments of livestock farming at broad spatial scales. Assessment of change in both quantity and location was made for six livestock types. Four contrasting scenarios were applied ranging from globalization to regionalization, as well as from low regulation levels and dominance of market forces towards a higher degree of governmental regulation. National level livestock numbers as calculated by a macro-economic model were spatially distributed at the landscape scale according to the scenario assumptions considering biophysical, socio-economic, and political forces. Results indicate for most of the old European Union (EU) member countries a decrease in livestock numbers. In the new EU member countries sheep, goats and pigs are expected to decline while beef cattle and poultry are expected to grow. Livestock densities are expected to increase both within and outside current livestock hotspot regions in absence of environmental legislations. Environmental pressure as result of high livestock densities may, however, also remain in regulated scenarios where environmental policies are implemented and income support remains stable over time due to path dependencies in the livestock sector. But contrary to the non-regulated scenario it is less likely that new areas with high risk of negative environmental impacts due to livestock farming will develop
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-101
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • land-use-change
  • production systems
  • animal production
  • exploring changes
  • cover change
  • nitrogen
  • model
  • landscapes
  • future
  • areas


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