Countries across the world at the COP 26 meet has pledged to protect and preserve the forests. Well, a study by a group of researchers from Aarhus University and the University of Sussex says that one of biggest challenges for the countries would be to restore the historical and prehistoric grazing of large mammals.
In the study the researchers looked at “the level of restoration one should aims for? How many large herbivores will we need? and how are we going to co-exist with these large animals.”
The findings were in a scientific article in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
In the analysis, the researchers calculated a baseline for large animals based on the ratio between producer and consumer (plants and herbivores), in nature reserves in Africa. The analysis shows that the relationship between producers and consumers applied across ecosystems and biomes implying a close correlation between the biomass produced and the biomass of dependent consumers. However the researchers in the analysis points out that they could find such a close correlation only in the continent of Africa. On the other continents, they came across strong indications of impoverished fauna, even in protected natural areas.
Camilla Flojgaard (Department of Ecoscience, Aarhus University), who heads the research group said that African ecosystems have species-rich mammal fauna and a large biomass of big herbivores that are significantly linked to plant productivity. However, she notes that this pattern was not visible in other continents. The researcher noted that the large herbivore biomass in general was much lower than expected considering the level of productivity.
FAR FEWER ANIMALS
The survey includes data from protected areas, reserves and several rewilding projects in Europe. In the continent, the researchers found significant differences, as the biomass for large herbivores in natural areas was less than one-tenth of the biomass observed in fenced rewilding areas with restored herbivore fauna,
ANOTHER LOWER BASELINE
The researchers in the article mention that large herbivores are still being displaced, hunted and eradicated. They pointed out that there was a widespread perception, even among game managers, that there are plenty of herbivores in the wild. They stated that efforts to decrease populations of large herbivores can reflect a shifting baseline.
Camilla Fløjgaard said: “Even though large herbivores have been wandering the landscape for millions of years, it seems that we have become accustomed to landscapes almost completely devoid of them, and we have come to accept this as the natural state of things.”
In the EU alone, there is a plan is to allocate 30 per cent of marine and land areas to the restoration of natural areas and ecosystems.