Herd no more: Livestock husbandry policies and the environment in Israel

Elizabeth Wachs, Alon Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Livestock production in both industrial systems, where livestock are packed tightly together, and in highly traditional systems, where a shepherd follows her herd in dispersed rangelands, are cited as key contributors in some of the most acute environmental problems around the globe. Israel is one of the few countries where both of these systems exist, with surprisingly little contact between them. The environmental impact of the sectors were examined along with Israel's public policies in the field. While historically, much attention has been placed on the contribution of the Bedouin pastoralists to desertification and erosion, this may be linked to historic misapprehension about actual impacts of goats on local rangelands as well as political motivations and concerns about losing national sovereignty over large areas of rangelands. The true environmental effects appear to be minor. A far more critical concern is water pollution caused by the industrial sector of livestock production - an issue that recently has attracted considerable government attention and investment in a successful dairy infrastructure initiative. The divisions between governmental supports for the Jewish and Arab sectors of livestock management are inconsistent with efficient environmental management. Policies should be designed to encourage Bedouin to find ways to sustainably continue their traditional livestock husbandry practises, which today are largely associated with ecological benefits and constitute a unique cultural asset for Israel and the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-422
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 8 Apr 2009


  • Agriculture
  • Bedouin
  • Environmental science
  • Grazing
  • Israel
  • Livestock
  • Middle eastern studies
  • Pastoralism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • History
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Environmental Science


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