According to one study, 170 bison could tackle the CO2 emissions of 2 million cars

In the heart of Romania’s Tarcu Mountains, a remarkable ecological revival is underway.

More than 170 European bison, once extinct in the region for more than two centuries, now roam free, reshaping ecosystems and potentially changing the course of climate change.

Recent research suggests that these amazing animals could be super helpful in reducing carbon pollution, perhaps even as much as modern technology can.

The study, using a new model developed by scientists at the Yale School of the Environment and funded by the Global Rewilding Alliance, shows how much carbon bison habitats can absorb.

The return of the bison

The European bison, which had not been seen in Romania for more than 200 years, returned to the Southern Carpathians in 2014, thanks to the collaboration between Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania.

Initially reintroduced with just over 100 individuals, the population has since flourished and grown to over 170, making it one of Europe’s largest free-ranging bison populations. But there is still plenty of room for more bison to spread, as the country can support as many as 450 bison.

Potential for carbon capture

The research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, shows that the bison’s grazing activities on almost 50 square kilometers of grassland in the Tarcu Mountains could potentially sequester an additional 2 million tons of carbon annually.

To give you an idea, it’s the same as the emissions from about 1.88 million regular American cars that run on gasoline. That is a great help in the fight against climate change.

Prof. Oswald Schmitz of the Yale School of the Environment, the report’s lead author, underlines the transformative role of bison in ecosystem dynamics.

“Bison impact grassland and forest ecosystems by evenly grazing grasslands, recycling nutrients to fertilize the soil, dispersing seeds to enrich the ecosystem and compacting the soil to prevent the release of stored carbon,” he said. The guard.

According to Schmitz, “Restoring these ecosystems can restore balance, and ‘re-wilded’ bison are some of the climate heroes who can help achieve this.”

Conservation of biodiversity and economic opportunities

Bison, recognized as keystone species, orchestrate a symphony of ecological benefits in addition to storing carbon. Their grazing and browsing behavior contributes to the maintenance of diverse landscapes, consisting of forests, shrublands, grasslands and microhabitats.

Their comeback in the Tarcu Mountains has led to a boom in tourism and companies focusing on nature and rewilding projects.

Alexander Lees, a biodiversity expert at Manchester Metropolitan University, highlights the wider implications of bison reintroduction. “This study makes a compelling case for the reintroduction of European bison as a nature-based climate solution – one with major benefits for biodiversity conservation,” he said.

Global significance

Magnus Sylvén, director of science policy at the Global Rewilding Alliance, underlines the transformative potential of nature restoration efforts. “This report is the first of its kind,” he says.

“This research opens up a whole range of new options for climate policymakers around the world,” Sylvén further added.

Additionally, Schmitz added that the research team has examined other species, including tropical forest elephants, musk oxen and sea otters, with promising results.

“Many of them show similar promise to these bison, often doubling an ecosystem’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and sometimes much more,” he revealed.

He emphasizes the importance of using rewilding as a policy instrument with enormous potential for climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation on a global scale.

The research was published in the journal Nature.


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Sujita Sinha Sujita is a versatile writer and has collaborated with Mashable Middle East and News Daily 24. When she is not writing, you can find her glued to the latest web series and films.

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