Cows are regularly portrayed as evil: four-legged, four-stomached, greenhouse gas machines chomping through forests and destroying the planet.
It’s no wonder the idea of a climate-smart livestock system sounds like an oxymoron.
Nevertheless, you can get a glimpse of these systems in Colombia’s mountainous, Cauca Department. Patía is also a microcosm of Colombia’s livestock conundrum. With around 23 million beasts, the country has as many cattle as Australia has people, grazing an area the size of Germany. At an average of one animal to 1.4 hectares, it’s lot of land for not much cow.
It’s also the recipe for environmental calamity. Land degradation due to livestock production is widespread, forests have been cut down to make way for new grazing areas, and livestock are responsible for nearly all of the country’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.
But somewhere like Patía, there are few other options.