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Climate Change

Preserving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change: Study

The study shows that protecting or restoring their populations could collectively facilitate the additional capture of 6.41 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually

Preserving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change: Study
The world's wildlife populations have declined by almost 70% in the last 50 years: Study

Washington: A new study led by Yale School of the Environment Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology Oswald Schmitz discovered that protecting wildlife around the world could significantly improve natural carbon capture and storage by supercharging ecosystem carbon sinks. The study, published in Nature Climate Change and co-authored by 15 scientists from eight countries, examined nine wildlife species — marine fish, whales, sharks, grey wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen, African forest elephants, and American bison. The data shows that protecting or restoring their populations could collectively facilitate the additional capture of 6.41 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.

This is 95 per cent of the amount needed every year to meet the Paris Agreement target of removing enough carbon from the atmosphere to keep global warming below the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold.

Wildlife species, throughout their interaction with the environment, are the missing link between biodiversity and climate, Professor Schmitz said, adding, This interaction means rewilding can be among the best nature-based climate solutions available to humankind.

Wild animals play a critical role controlling the carbon cycle in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems through a wide range of processes including foraging, nutrient deposition, disturbance, organic carbon deposition, and seed dispersal, Professor Schmitz’s research has shown. The dynamics of carbon uptake and storage fundamentally changes with the presence or absence of animals.

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Endangering animal populations to the point where they become extinct could flip the ecosystems they inhabit from carbon sinks to carbon sources, according to the research.

The world’s wildlife populations have declined by almost 70% in the last 50 years. The study shows that solving the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis are not separate issues and the restoration of animal populations should be included in the scope of nature-based climate solutions, the authors say. Rewilding animal populations to enhance natural carbon capture and storage is known as animating the carbon cycle.

Other high potential species across the world include the African buffalo, white rhino, puma, dingo, Old and New World primates, hornbills, fruit bats, harbor and gray seals, and loggerhead and green turtles, the authors note.

Natural climate solutions are becoming fundamental to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, while creating added opportunity to enhance biodiversity conservation, the study states, adding, Expanding climate solutions to include animals can help shorten the time horizon over which 500GtCO2 is drawn out of the atmosphere, especially if current opportunities to protect and rapidly recover species populations and the functional intactness of landscapes and seascapes are seized on. To ignore animals leads to missed opportunities to enhance the scope, spatial extent, and range of ecosystems that can be enlisted to help hold climate warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Also Read: Ladakh Hosts Its First Bird Festival For Preservation Of Fragile Ecosystem

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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