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New study on grazing in Kazakhstan

16 January 2019

IAMO scientists have published a study on the spatial distribution and intensity of grazing in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world with vast grasslands and low human population density. Extensive livestock production is therefore a mainstay of Kazakh agriculture. The huge, partly underutilized areas could also play a crucial role in supplying the world's population with animal products.

Despite the large land requirements and the considerable ecological footprint of livestock production, there are gaps in knowledge regarding the size, intensity and spatial distribution of the land used for livestock farming. In the study, the authors therefore developed a novel approach for assessing grazing intensity at high spatial detail. In 2015, an estimated 48% of available grazing area was utilized, but at very low average intensity, indicating a large potential for expansion of livestock production. Nevertheless, there were areas where overgrazing is a present danger. The map of grazing intensity developed by the authors can be used to determine the sustainable limit of Kazakhstan's pastures and associated livestock production potentials. The model can also be adapted for use in other regions where grazing patterns can be defined but current pasture utilization is unknown.

The study has been published by PLOS ONE and can be downloaded here.

Brett HankersonFlorian Schierhorn, Alexander V. Prishchepov, Changxing Dong, Christina Eisfelder, Daniel Müller (2019): Modeling the spatial distribution of grazing intensity in Kazakhstan. PLOS ONE 14 (1): 1-27.