Land clearing describes the removal of native vegetation and habitat such as bushland, woodland, forest and native grassland, usually to make way for crop-producing land or grazing farm animals. Land clearing is devastating to native people and animals, and has resulted in huge losses of biodiversity.

What does land clearing have to do with animals we raise for food and fibre?

Raising ‘livestock’ accounts for ~80% of all global farming land use when combining both land used for grazing and animal feed production. While the animal agriculture sector accounts for such a vast amount of agricultural land, it only makes up 18% of global calories and 37% total protein [ref].

Crops grown to feed livestock

Upwards of 70 billion land animals are raised for food and fibre every year; predictably these animals, particularly those living in intensive feedlots and factory farms, consume a huge amount of feed, namely soy and cereals. In fact, of all soy crops grown in the world, between 70-75% is fed to livestock and only 6% is consumed directly by humans [ref]. Growing crops requires large amounts of land, and with meat consumption on the rise globally, more and more land is needed to feed the animals that will eventually be eaten by humans.

Land for animals used for feed and fibre 

Despite most animals used for human consumption being raised in intensive factory farms, there is still a substantial amount of land used for livestock grazing, mainly for sheep and cattle. Cattle, in particular, require huge amounts of land for grazing, with roughly two acres being required per bovine. Between 2013 and 2018 it was found that 73% of land clearing in the Australian state of Queensland was due to beef production [ref]. Australia is one of the largest exporters of beef in the world, and also accounts for between 5 and 10 percent of total global biodiversity loss [ref]. Similarly, in Brazil there is huge deforestation occurring to make way for cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef products in the world [ref].