– Wild animals aid in the absorption and storage of more carbon by the environment, safeguard the carbon already stored there, and stop it from being released into the atmosphere.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), there is a growing understanding of the significance of wild animals in reversing the global warming, as the world is currently hopelessly off course and headed for close to 3°Celcius of warming.
“IFAW believes we can still reach the Paris Agreement goals but only if we halt and reverse nature loss. Wild animals are some of our most powerful allies, driving ecosystem processes that capture carbon from the atmosphere – we need to harness this role as a nature-based solution to the climate crisis,” said Simon Addison, IFAW’s Climate Change Advisor.
In addition to keeping carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere, wild animals assist in the absorption and storage of more carbon by the environment.
The carbon cycle is one of the amazing but little-known ways that wildlife drives ecological processes, which can be used to provide natural solutions to the climate crisis.
In two key ways, wild animals contribute to natural climate solutions. Firstly, they shield the carbon that is naturally stored and stop it from entering the atmosphere.
Secondly, they aid in the absorption and storage of even more carbon by nature.
By means of their vital connections throughout the ecosystem, wild animals contribute to the sequestration of carbon in plants and, eventually, in soils and sediments.
A total of nine species and species groups—marine fish, whales, sharks, grey wolves, wildebeest, sea otter, musk ox, African forest elephants, and American bison—are thought to be able to help absorb more than 95% of the CO2 required annually to keep global warming below the 1.5°Celcius threshold if their populations are preserved and restored.
However, this potential has not yet received enough attention in climate conference (COP) deliberations.
Up until now, discussions about nature-based solutions have tended to concentrate on key ecosystems for combating climate change, such as seagrass beds, mangroves, woodlands, or wetlands, as though these were static areas that exist apart from the components that allow them to function and absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.
“Restoring wild animal populations offers an inspirational vision and practical action we can take to combat climate change today,” says Addison.
Aiming to maintain global warming 1.5°Celcius over pre-industrial levels, COP28 will assess progress towards this objective.
In the meantime, governments and other stakeholders are being urged by IFAW to acknowledge the vital role that wildlife conservation plays in spearheading immediate measures to address the climate catastrophe.
One could argue that this phenomenon is not the case in places like Botswana and Zimbabwe, where the population of elephants is said to have overrun the capacity of their habitat, leading to habitat destruction and an increase in conflicts between humans and wildlife.