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Saving tigers means saving earth from climate change, know-how?

In a recent study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, successful tiger conservation efforts in Asia have had an unintended positive

By groundreportdesk
New Update
India lost 661 tigers in nearly 6 years

In a recent study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, successful tiger conservation efforts in Asia have had an unintended positive impact. These conservation measures, particularly the enhanced protection of forests in India, not only helped preserve tigers but also prevented the release of approximately 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The study highlights the crucial role of forest protection in climate change mitigation. By safeguarding the habitats of tigers, which are keystone species in these ecosystems, conservation efforts have indirectly contributed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Conserved forests have acted as carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide that would otherwise have been released through deforestation and forest degradation.

India, being home to three-quarters of the world's wild tigers, has experienced a significant decline in its population due to the destruction of its natural habitats. The tiger population dropped from 40,000 in 1947, when India became independent, to just 1,500 in 2006. However, recent official figures indicate that the number has now exceeded 3,000.

In an effort to revive its population, India has established 52 tiger reserves where strict regulations on logging and deforestation are imposed. These reserves aim to protect tigers as an "umbrella species", a term coined by Aakash Lamba, lead author of a study conducted at the National University of Singapore.

He explained that by safeguarding tigers, the diverse wildlife that inhabits their forest habitats is also being preserved.

Forests, known as "carbon sinks", play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, as they absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they release. Considering that India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, the country has pledged to reduce its emissions.

Million metric tons

A team of researchers led by Aakash Lamba has conducted a study to establish a tangible connection between tiger conservation and carbon emissions.

They conducted a comparative analysis of deforestation rates in heavily protected tiger reserves and areas where tigers also inhabit but lack significant protection.

The study revealed that between 2001 and 2020, more than 61,000 hectares of forest were destroyed in 162 different regions, with more than three-quarters of the deforestation occurring outside tiger reserves.

Interestingly, between 2007 and 2020, approximately 6,000 hectares of trees were preserved within tiger reserves, averting more than one million metric tons of carbon emissions, according to the study's estimates.

Another study further supported these findings, suggesting that conserving or restoring various wildlife species such as whales, wolves, and otters could capture or sequester 6.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Lamba underlined the economic importance of avoiding emissions, particularly in a country like India that has experienced the detrimental impacts of climate change, especially on the agricultural industry.

The researchers calculated that the social cost of these emissions amounted to savings of more than $92 million. If included in a carbon offset program, the benefits derived from the prevention of deforestation exceed six million dollars.

Lamba noted that the financial advantage of avoiding carbon emissions accounted for more than a quarter of India's annual spending on tiger conservation. These significant findings emphasize that investing in wildlife conservation not only safeguards ecosystems and wildlife, but also generates substantial benefits for societies and economies.

Tiger Conservation: Climate Benefits Revealed

According to the Global Carbon Atlas, India, ranked as the world's third-largest emitter after China and the US, emitted 2.442 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020. By comparison, although the amount of avoided carbon emissions Through tiger conservation may not be considered massive, it is still significant, as Aakash Lamba said

The study revealed that the avoided deforestation resulting from tiger conservation efforts could be valued at approximately $6.24 million in carbon offsets. Furthermore, the researchers estimated that it represents approximately $92 million in ecosystem services derived from avoiding the social costs associated with emissions in India.

The researchers found that over the study period, more than a quarter of annual spending on tiger conservation was effectively paid back each year by avoiding the impacts of climate change.

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