Protecting the functional roles of big animals in ecosystems is an undervalued contribution in controlling the carbon cycle, a new report published in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals. The group of researchers presented scientific evidence showing that restoring wild animals and their functional roles can enhance natural carbon capture and storage.
Natural climate solutions are being advanced to arrest climate warming by protecting and enhancing carbon capture and storage in plants, soils and sediments in ecosystems. These solutions are viewed as having the ancillary benefit of protecting habitats and landscapes to conserve animal species diversity.
However, according to the report, rewilding just nine wildlife species or species groups (African forest elephants, American bison, fish, grey wolves, musk oxen, sea otters, sharks, whales and wildebeest) would contribute more than 95% towards the global target of extracting 500bn metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2100.
This in turn would help cap the global temperature rise at less than 1.5C below pre-industrial levels, as called for in the Paris Agreement. “We call for new thinking that includes the restoration and conservation of wild animals and their ecosystem roles as a key component of natural climate solutions that can enhance the ability to prevent climate warming beyond 1.5 °C.”, the authors alert.
According to the report lead author Oswald Schmitz, a professor at the Yale School of the Environment, as published by Positive News, there’s a huge untapped potential to consider conserving wild animals as a climate solution. “If you do some of the rough calculations, the numbers rival those of what the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is right now promoting in terms of converting everything to solar or wind generation … the numbers are in the same ballpark.”, he told.
“Fortunately, we have the technology to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere,” Schmitz added. “It’s called nature.”
Source: Nature Climate Change | Positive News