Researchers at Lund University in Sweden and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found hunting animals has a negative impact on a forest’s carbon storage, a factor that is often overlooked in climate change mitigation efforts. Their research was published in Forests.
Often unregulated or illegal, hunting takes place in forests globally and results in cascading impacts on forest diversity, decreasing the distribution of seeds and the overall biodiversity of the forest and ultimately leading to lower levels of carbon storage. At the same time, hunting is an important food source for local rural communities.
The study looked at climate mitigation efforts around the world to see which ones emphasized the importance of hunting regulations. Although some efforts raised concern for biodiversity, hunting as a driver of forest degradation is rarely acknowledged, researchers claimed.
The study raises possible reasons that hunting might be overlooked in international climate mitigation efforts and suggested that it’s left out to avoid greater complexity in the debate about climate change.
Going forward, researchers suggested that increased wildlife management initiatives and conversations with local hunters could be steps in the right direction for preserving forest biodiversity.