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Large herbivores can reduce the risk of forest fires

Behind the red deer (Cervus elaphus), Glen Gary, Highland. Credits: Charlesjsharp / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The use of large herbivores can be an effective means of preventing and mitigating wildfires, especially in areas facing land abandonment. They can replace much more costly solutions such as firefighting and mechanical vegetation removal. This is the result of a study led by researchers at the German Center for Integrated Biodiversity Research (iDiv). Applied Ecology Journal..They provide suggestions for fire and agricultural policy in Europe and the world


Socio-economic momentum is causing massive land abandonment in many parts of the world. Nomadic customs and livestock farming are declining worldwide. As a result, the area gradually grows in bushes and the trees accumulate flammable plant material. The established firebreak will be lost. These processes increase the risk and intensity of wildfires. Currently, one of the main responses to this risk is to invest in firefighting capabilities. This is effective in fighting wildfires, but more promising strategies include avoiding wildfires in the first place.

Researchers at the German Center for Integrated Biodiversity (iDiv), Leipzig University, Helmholtz Environmental Research Center (UFZ), Wageningen University, CIBIO / InBIO (University of Porto and University of Lisbon, Center for Biodiversity and Genetic Resources) Large herbivorous animals, including wild and semi-wild herbivorous animals, have been found to be able to form nature-based solutions to reduce the risk of wildfire. The study was conducted as part of the Rewilding Europe-coordinated project Graze LIFE, a LIFE-preparatory project co-funded at the request of the European Commission.

The international research team has a large herbivore fire-Vegetation is likely to occur, and it is also affected by wildfires. To do this, they evaluated existing studies investigating the relationship between herbivores, vegetation structure, fire risk, fire frequency, and fire damage. They found that herbivores could mitigate the damage caused by wildfires. The effect depends on several factors, including herbivore population density, herbivore species and diet, as well as vegetation types and environmental conditions.

“It is possible to reintroduce wild and semi-wild herbivores as well as livestock,” said Julia Rouet-Leduc, lead author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at iDiv and the University of Leipzig. “Especially in remote and inaccessible areas where careful herbivore management can combine wildfire prevention with nature maintenance, it is effective in reducing the risk of wildfires.” Dr. von van der Plus, an assistant professor at the University of Heningen, added: , Acts as a natural firebreak. If desired, short-term intensive grazing (known as “targeted grazing”) can be combined with other actions such as mechanical grazing to further reduce the risk of fire.

Based on their findings, researchers make recommendations to land managers and policy makers to mitigate wildfires. One is to maintain and promote large-scale grazing by domestic or (semi) wild herbivores in areas currently facing land abandonment. This requires the integration of relevant agriculture and forestry and fire management policies to provide financial support for animal fire protection. In Europe, for example, the Common Agricultural Policy needs to support farmers and landowners by using large-scale grazing for fire management. Dr. Guipia, a researcher at iDiv and UFZ, said: He is also the lead author of the study.

“At the same time, we must admit that fire is a natural process and important to many ecosystems, and we need to learn to live with it to some extent,” said Rouet-Leduc. I am. “With climate change, wildfires can become more and more serious in many parts of the world,” says Pe’er. “Current policies can and should take into account nature-based solutions much better, such as getting herbivores to work.”


Agroforestry can reduce the risk of wildfires


For more information:
Julia Rouet-Leduc et al, Impact of large herbivores on fire regimes and wildfire mitigation, Applied Ecology Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1111 / 1365-2664.13972

Provided by the German Center for Integrated Biodiversity Research

Quote: Large herbivores are at risk of forest fires acquired on September 6, 2021 from https: //phys.org/news/2021-09-large-herbivores-forest.html (September 6, 2021) Can be reduced

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Large herbivores can reduce the risk of forest fires

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