The global cropland footprint of Denmark's food supply 2000–2013

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The global use of and pressure on land resources will continue to rise in tandem with the predicted rise in global population and food demand. Addressing unavoidable trade-offs between satisfying human needs and biodiversity conservation for future generations is of paramount importance when tackling the global environmental challenges of land use. Food consumption patterns are inextricably linked to land-use and land-use changes. The domestic supply and final use of food by humans and feed by animals within the borders of a country have environmental impacts overseas. Countries like Denmark, with considerably high livestock production, import “virtual” land needed to produce cereals and other fodder crops. Denmark's high meat and dairy consumption and trade levels make it a compelling case for this study. The overarching question is: how much land is required to support food and feed consumption in Denmark? This paper assesses the global cropland footprint of Danish food and feed supply from 2000 to 2013 using a consumption-based physical accounting approach. In addition to domestic croplands for local food and supply, we estimate the hectares of cropland displaced in other countries to satisfy Danish demand for food and feed in this period. Secondly, we calculate Denmark's global cropland requirements for the supply of specific livestock products, namely; pork, eggs, beef, milk, and mutton. Globally, animals provide a third of the protein in human diets and agricultural GDP. The total global cropland footprint of Danish food and feed supply decreased by 18% from 1568 kha in 2000 to 1282 kha in 2013 because of a reduction in the consumption of ruminant livestock products. A high share of this reduction can be attributed to increased local self-sufficiency in feed supply as opposed to rising food imports. The share of cropland used for feed in total cropland declined by 5% whereas the share of cropland used for food increased from 28% in 2000 to 32% by 2013. Our findings suggest that reducing domestic meat consumption coupled with local self-sufficiency policies for both food and feed supply could be a means of lowering ecological degradation in exporting countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101978
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume58
IssueSeptember
ISSN0959-3780
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • Land use, Cropland footprint, Food supply, Sustainable consumption

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