Where’s the Beef?

Global demand for beef is growing rapidly, particularly in Asia. This is an emerging wicked problem as cattle already represent the greatest mammalian biomass on the planet and have a substantial, and near global, environmental footprint. A quarter of the world’s land surface is used as grazing lands, a result of extensive clearing of native habitats. These landscape changes have devastated biodiversity, with many species lost and predicted to be lost. Beef production is also inextricable linked to climate change.

The scale of these impacts depends on where and how cattle production occurs. This project aims to build systems models of local environmental impacts of beef production coupled with models of global beef trade to analyse production and policy scenarios. Outcomes of this research include a framework for projecting regional and global ecological impacts of domestic cattle production policies, allowing informed decisions that consider and benefit environmental and socio-economic values. Novel insights into the global impacts of cattle production and trade, will enable governments, the livestock industry and the environmental not-for-profit sector to tackle rising demand while avoiding perverse outcomes from local environments.

Group researchers:

Adam Charette-Castonguay

Eve McDonald-Madden

Matthew Holden


Steve Polasky (University of Minnesota)

Eddie Game (TNC)

Mario Herrero (CSIRO)

Daniel Mason-D’Croz (CSIRO)

Brett Bryant (Deakin University)

Cecile Godde (CSIRO)

Brendan Wintle (University of Melbourne)

Payal Bal (University of Melbourne)

Bradd Witt (UQ)



ARC Future Fellowship