In DepthEcology

Restoring lost grazers could help blunt climate change

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Science  26 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6413, pp. 388
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6413.388

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Restoring reindeer and rhinoceroses could help protect grasslands, forests, and tundra from catastrophic wildfires and other threats associated with global warming, new studies suggest. The findings give advocates of so-called trophic rewilding—reintroducing lost species to reestablish healthy food webs—a new rationale for bringing back the big grazers. The concept is often associated with an ambitious—and controversial—proposal to restore large mammals to a huge park in Russia, perhaps by re-creating ice age mammoths. So far, however, rewilders have focused on restoring giant tortoises, dam-building beavers, or herds of grazing animals. Researchers have now shown that rewilding may help reduce an area's risk of fires or keep permafrost cool. Many challenges remain, however, to scale such efforts up.