Animating the carbon cycle through trophic rewilding could provide highly effective natural climate solutions

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Oswald J. Schmitz, Magnus Sylven, Trisha Atwood, Elisabeth S. Bakker, Fabio Berzaghi, Jedediah F. Brodie, Joris P.G.M. Cromsigt, Andrew Davies, Shawn J. Leroux, Frans J. Schepers


Natural climate solutions are being advanced as cost-effective and safe ways to achieve net-zero emissions by protecting and enhancing carbon capture and storage in plants, and in soils and sediments in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Current thinking holds that these solutions have the added benefit of protecting habitats and landscapes to restore and conserve animal species diversity. However this reasoning undervalues the inexorable functional role of animals in controlling the carbon cycle. We discuss the growing scientific evidence that reveals how enlisting the functional role of animals can significantly enhance natural carbon capture and storage. We call for new thinking that treats the conservation and restoration of animal species and their functional roles within ecosystems as a key way to broaden the scope of natural climate solutions and thereby help speed up the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere to prevent climate warming beyond 1.5°C.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Marine Biology


Animal-driven ecosystem process, Carbon cycling, Large vertebrates, Natutal climate solution, Rewilding


Published: 2022-05-11 13:57


CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International