New Study Says Rewilding Animals Could Help the Climate
Trophic rewilding helps to restore biodiversity in ecosystems, leading to more robust carbon sequestration in plants and animals alike.
As it turns out, some of the most effective offsets to the climate crisis are also the simplest. New research published in Nature says that reintroducing wildlife to its natural habitat—or rewilding—could help with carbon capture.
What Is Trophic Rewilding?
Trophic rewilding is an ecological restoration process that focuses on the food webs.
The approach begins at the top, with the hopes that the conservation and repopulation of larger animals (or megafauna) will increase trophic cascades. Ensuring that predators (both carnivores and herbivores) are in place, and hunting prey, improves the overall health of levels of the food web (aka trophic levels)—trophic cascades are the successful implementation of this system.
How Does Rewilding Animals Help Sequester Carbon?
According to the study, the preservation of nine key species—including reef sharks, wildebeest, gray wolves, baleen whales, African forest elephants, and more—could capture up to 6.4 gigatons of carbon per year.
Not only do the larger animals store carbon in their physical bodies, their presence also lends to the health of forests and sea grass, the latter of which absorbs 10% of the ocean's annual carbon.
Though rewilding isn't a wholesale solution to climate change, making space for this sort of restoration can only benefit the planet—and the plants and animals that call it home.
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