Livestock maps tally global population and distribution

A group of agriculture experts have released a set of maps depicting world’s livestock populations showing the distribution and density of the animals down to one kilometer with the maps deemed to provide important insights like the difference between protein rich and starved regions globally.

Scientists who assembled the data aimed to provide a resource for researchers solving and analysing contemporary issues in livestock production and intensification, ILRI said.

They include the critical importance of livestock to the lives and livelihoods of some 766 million poor farmers in the developing world, but also the role of livestock in natural resource use, climate change, and as reservoirs of infectious disease.

The studies made possible by these maps are viewed as critical to assessing the current and future role of livestock in different parts of the world, from the protein-saturated environs of wealthy countries to the protein-starved of poor countries, and the policies required to safely manage their development.

One thing setting the maps apart from similar products is that they can be easily updated as new data become available. Such a feature is particularly important because it will allow scientists to observe almost in real time the dramatic changes taking place in livestock production in the developing world that some call a ‘livestock revolution’.

In developing countries, by 2050 demand for meat and dairy products is expected to rise by 73 percent and 58 percent, respectively, from their 2010 levels. This growth is driven not only by population increase — the world population will grow from 7.2 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050 — but also by changing consumption patterns linked to increasing wealth and urbanization.

According to ILRI, the maps can be updated as new data becomes available and freely accessible through a Livestock Geo-Wiki, a site maintained by collaborators at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

Other collaborators in the development of the maps included the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Environmental Research Group Oxford (ERGO), the University of Oxford and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The maps  are freely accessible at Livestock Geo-Wiki, a site maintained by collaborators at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).