An Oxford professor has doubts about a new study which found rewilding some groups of animals could help save the planet from global warming.

The study, carried out by a team at Yale University, in the United States, found that restoring populations of bison, African elephants and baleen whales could help trap more carbon and reduce temperatures.

It also concluded that it is important to maintain the current levels of reef sharks, grey wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen and ocean fish.

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These animals trap large amounts of carbon in their bodies while also helping the growth of trees and seagrass, known to capture even more.

The study also highlights that the reintroduction of these animals in large numbers will prevent wildfires, which release lots of carbon dioxide.

Oswald Schmitz, Professor of Population and Community Ecology at the Yale University School of the Environment said: “There’s been scepticism in the scientific community that animals matter, because if you just do the accounting, they’d say animals don’t make up much of the carbon on the planet, so they can’t be important.

“What we’re doing is connecting the dots, showing that animals, despite their lack of abundance, have an outsized role because of the multiplier effects that they create.”

However, Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford said the findings don’t provide enough evidence for policy recommendations.

He said: “The science is not yet robust enough and the timescales involved in many cases are too slow given the urgency of the climate crisis."


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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