In the past 40 years the area under pastures in Latin America increased from 473 to 555 million hectares, and the number of cattle has risen from 195 to 394 million. This growth has resulted in forest loss and fragmentation.
Pastures are now the main agricultural land use, particularly in areas like El Petén, in Guatemala. However, between 50-70% of those pastures are degraded, with low forage yields that have poor nutritive value. This lowers their carrying capacity and the performance of the cattle. Equally, degraded pastures are less effective in providing ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity and water availability and quality. All these aspects of pasture degradation reduce the income and food security of livestock farmer families and the livelihoods of rural communities.
The “Degraded Pastures” project in Central America has had an impact that has extended far beyond the duration and scope of the project. This is because the joint learning process that it established motivated the participants to continue working together, and also motivated other organisations, both public and private, to join or support them.
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