The team led by Koldo Osoro Otaduy, manager of the Animal Production Systems Area at SERIDA and centre director, undertook a large part of the field work in areas in which the role of the goat is very relevant and have certain similarities with hostile environments in other parts of the world.
"Many national and international projects have been carried out in less-favoured areas, like the Asturian mountains which are home to steep slopes, poor soil, an aging population and a high risk of depopulation and abandonment of traditional activities," ensure the researchers.
The goat: its virtues and defects
Poor handling of grazing, which does not consider the livestock species and their most fitting habitat, is the main cause of the damaging effects that goats can cause on the environment.
For example, the uncontrolled growth of the cashmere goat to increase production of its prized wool has meant in some cases that the ecosystems have become overloaded. This has not only affected vegetation but also certain indigenous species in India, China and Mongolia.
To counteract this, the study also considers a large number of cases in which the species plays an important role in environmental conservation. These include their use in the fight against fires in areas dominated by bushes and in controlling exotic vegetation plagues that could put ecosystems at risk.
"We wanted to perform a global review, taking into account very different regions of the world, from the Himalayan peaks to tropical areas, and analysing to what extent the goat competes with local fauna in each region and whether it interferes with the survival of the most sensitive species," outlines Rosa Garca.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology