Livestock systems and environment on the Alps
Extensive livestock systems in mountain areas have a relevant ecological rule. Traditional farms, based on use of local forages and pastures contribute to maintain environmental quality and biodiversity of mountain ecosystems. Mountain agriculture experimented a dramatic decline in the last years, a phenomenon mostly driven by socio-economic factors such as immigration into lowland where new economic opportunities are offered to rural people. The abandoning of traditional extensive farming has been associated with land use changes and loss of biodiversity. This paper analyse the evolution of livestock farms in the Alps, focusing on environmental sustainability of production systems.