Anet Spengler Neff, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FIBL, Switzerland
Mountain farming is geared towards and dependent on the use of grassland. Grassland can be used for human consumption mainly with the help of ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. From the point of view of climate protection however, the keeping of ruminants is strongly criticized due to the emissions of large quantities of the climate-damaging methane gas during their digestive process. Would it not therefore make ecological sense to abandon livestock farming in the mountains and leave today’s agricultural land to nature?
The answer is no. Firstly, mountain farming provides numerous important services for society and the environment. Secondly, more recent scientific studies show that, also from the point of view of climate protection, management of grassland in mountain areas with ruminants performs significantly better than previously assumed.