The main task for animal husbandry is to provide a secure protein supply for a fast-growing world population in order to ensure stable livelihoods. Consumption patterns in industrialised and emerging economies have led to an intensification of animal husbandry and a more globalised food market, resulting in tremendous changes in the use of agricultural land, grassland and pastures, highly intensive production systems and a worldwide traffic of animal food and animal products.

The production of animal food – thus animal husbandry in general – depends on biodiversity and plays an important role in shaping biodiversity at the same time. Since the Neolithic, agriculture and animal husbandry have significantly increased the diversity of landscapes and species within Europe. The European continent used to be covered with forest; new landscape features emerged with the expansion of agriculture, including fields, pastures, orchards and cultivated landscapes (such as meadows). Currently more than 47 % or 210 million hectares of arable and grassland areas, which equates to almost half of the surface in Europe (EU-27), are used for agriculture. Consequently, 50 % of European species depend on agricultural habitats. This symbiotic and beneficial relationship between agriculture and biodiversity has altered fundamentally since the 1950ies.

Further reading


The "Fleischatlas 2018 – Rezepte für eine bessere Tierhaltung" (german) presents not only the problems of the meat industry and their causes, but above all opportunities, strategies and instruments for change. 

The "Meat Atlas - Facts and figures about the animals we eat (2014)" sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

The Article "Sustainable, efficient livestock production with high biodiversity and good welfare for animals (2013)" by D. M. Broom, F. A. Galindo and E. Murgueitio show that silvopastoral systems can provide efficient feed conversion, higher biodiversity, enhanced connectivity between habitat patches and better animal welfare.