What livestock has to offer to biodiversity & healthy soils
TOPIC 2020
“The continuous, accelerating decline in biodiversity is of particular concern as biodiversity provides the fabric of life with a range of ecosystems services which are crucial for human well-being”. “Main direct drivers of biodiversity loss, in order of their importance, are land use change, overexploitation (through intensive agriculture, forestry and fishing practices), climate change, pollution and invasive species” . 2020 will be the year of biodiversity with the UN aiming to develop a post-2020 framework.
Livestock is often blamed for its contribution to biodiversity losses but the reality is more complex. The effects of livestock on biodiversity are variable across farming systems and livestock production can also make a positive contribution to biodiversity objectives and preservation of habitats. Very often, research initiatives on soil fertility do not include animal farming. Still, livestock is a reservoir of solutions to increase soil C-sequestration, biological fertility, organic matter, etc. In some cases, it generates in negative impacts as emission of reactive N and dissemination of medicine residues or antimicrobial resistance.
ATF would like to explore the different pathways, needs in cooperation and R&I to support an animal production able to contribute to ecosystems remediation, whatever in soils and on biodiversity.
  • the 8th ATF-EAAP special session (01 December 2020, remote meeting)
  • the 10th ATF seminar (21 April 2021, Brussels, Belgium)
Both events aim to contribute to:
  • Engage a dialogue with various stakeholders;
  • Address how research and innovation can support the livestock sector;
  • Provide input to European research and innovation agendas and to public policies to secure Europe’s role as a leading global provider of safe and healthy animal-derived products;
  • Support knowledge development and innovation;
  • Foster ownership by farmers and industries.


8th ATF-EAAP special session - 01 December 2020
Since 2013, the ATF-EAAP Special Session during the EAAP Annual Meeting aims to bring together animal science with practice of animal production and connect researchers, policy-makers, industry representatives and societal organisations. Every year, a different topic is addressed during this half-day session.
The outcomes of the session will be discussed with a large panel of European stakeholders during the ATF seminar, in Brussels.
Welcome & introduction
By Jean-Louis Peyraud, outgoing ATF President - @PeyraudJean & Matthias Gauly, outgoing EAAP President
SETTING THE SCENE: Assessment of livestock impacts and positive contributions to biodiversity and soil health
By Félix Teillard, FAO - @FAOclimate
Livestock production is widespread around the world, with terrestrial areas dedicated to rangelands and cropland dedicated to fodder production. Demand for livestock products is projected to grow significantly until 2050, driven by a combination of global population growth and changes in patterns of food consumption due to increasing wealth and urbanization. The influence of livestock production on biodiversity and soil health needs therefore to be assessed, considering that the exact effects are diverse and depend on the intensity of production, the nature of specific practices, the livestock species used, and local ecological conditions. The quantitative assessment of the impacts of livestock systems on biodiversity and soil health is an area of work to be included in future sustainability assessments.

SETTING THE SCENE: Trade-offs between livestock, biodiversity and soils health and approaches towards positive impacts
By Alberto Arroyo Schnell, International Union for Conservation of Nature - @IUCN 
A representative of an organisation involved in nature conservation will highlight the relation between the biodiversity crisis and practices in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry on the one hand, and disruption of water flow, inadequate management of waste and discharges, etc. On the other hand, the approach will explore the potential application of positive impact approaches for biodiversity in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors and drivers for change.

Farmers best practices to mitigate or remediate biodiversity losses
By Seán Finan, CEJA - @finan_sean   @_CEJA_ 
Example of a ruminant farmer’s practices towards fostering ordinary biodiversity and soil health by using a diversity of forage species and grassland types, by introducing short term grassland in crop rotation, and by diversification of land use and thus maintaining open habitats and landscape. Introduction of legumes that contribute to nitrogen (fertilizer) and protein (feed) for livestock and contributes to animal health thanks to some of their secondary metabolic compounds.

Animal genetic resources and breeding goals for biodiversity-rich livestock systems
By Sipke J. Hiemstra, Centre for Genetic Resources - Wageningen University & Research - @HiemstraSJ
To maintain options for livestock systems to adapt to a variety of future environments and contexts it is important to preserve a broad genetic base and livestock gene pool. Complementary strategies are needed to conserve and to properly manage farm animal genetic diversity (local and cosmopolitan breeds), and to exploit the available animal genetic resources in the global context of food and nutrition security and climate change. At the same time, livestock provide a diversity of agroecological, social, cultural and rural economic services, contributing to preservation of biodiversity, diverse landscapes, high-quality food and cultural heritage. Hence, breeding goals and the choice of livestock breeds should be based on characteristics and limitations of different future farming systems and agro-ecological contexts. Knowledge should be mobilized on development of tailor made breeding goals, on better phenotypic and genomic characterization of breeds, and on genotype × environment interactions and resilience mechanisms.
Good practices of industry driving production
By Dionys Forster & Robert Erhard, Nestlé - @Nestle
Example of a company involving farmers and developing local and/or labelled products accounting for biodiversity, healthy soils and healthy food products schemes with added value for farmers and appreciated by the consumer.

Questions & answers
Coffee break
Moderated by Frank O'Mara, Teagasc - @FrankOMara8
with the audience, the speakers and Patrick Worms, EURAF - @EURAF_AF
By Frank O'Mara, incoming ATF President - @FrankOMara8 & Isabel Casasús, incoming EAAP President


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