Multi-model assessment identifies livestock grazing as a major contributor to variation in European Union land and water footprints

Davy Vanham*, Martin Bruckner, Florian Schwarzmueller, Joep Schyns, Thomas Kastner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Food systems are the largest users of land and water resources worldwide. Using a multi-model approach to track food through the global trade network, we calculated the land footprint (LF) and water footprint (WF) of food consumption in the European Union (EU). We estimated the EU LF as 140–222 Mha yr−1 and WF as 569–918 km3 yr−1. These amounts are 5–7% of the global LF and 6–10% of the global WF of agriculture, with the EU representing 6% of the global population. We also calculated the global LF of livestock grazing, accounting only for grass eaten, to be 1,411–1,657 Mha yr−1, and the global LF of agriculture to be 2,809–3,014 Mha yr−1, which is about two-thirds of what the Food and Agriculture Organization Statistics (FAOSTAT) database reports. We discuss here the different methods for calculating the LF for livestock grazing, underscoring the need for a consistent methodology when monitoring the food LF and WF reduction goals set by the EU’s Farm To Fork Strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalNature Food
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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