Bison Reintroduction in Romania Boosts Carbon Removal Potential, Researchers Say

Bison Reintroduction in Romania Boosts Carbon Removal Potential, Researchers Say - Carbon Herald
Image: Ricardo Reitmeyer/Shutterstock

After a 200-year absence, European Bison have been reintroduced to the Țarcu Mountains in Romania, demonstrating how rewilding can significantly enhance carbon removal and become a major option for policymakers in their efforts to combat climate change, Euronews Green reported Friday.

The reintroduction of 170 bison in this region could help offset the carbon emissions equivalent to those of 84,000 average US petrol cars annually, according to a recent, yet-to-be peer-reviewed research conducted by Yale University, WWF Romania, and the Global Rewilding Alliance with support from WWF Netherlands and Rewilding Europe.

The study suggests that these bison contribute to capturing an additional 54,000 tons of carbon each year by grazing on 18 sq mi (48 sq km) of grassland, which is about ten times higher than the carbon removal potential of the ecosystem without the bison.

However, this estimate could vary by up to 55%, equating to emissions from 43,000 to 84,000 cars, the authors of the report note.

Bison aid carbon sequestration by evenly grazing, recycling nutrients, dispersing seeds, and compacting the soil to prevent carbon release, and their long absence has disrupted the ecosystem’s balance, leading to increased carbon emissions.

“These astonishing results show the potential for reintroduced wild animals to supercharge the ability of ecosystems to draw down atmospheric carbon,” Maheen Khan, WWF Netherlands’ climate lead, was quoted as saying by Euronews Green.

Relevant: Losing Elephants Could Lead To Lower Carbon Sequestration Of Forests

European Bison, nearly extinct due to extensive hunting between the 17th and 19th centuries, were reintroduced to the Carpathian Mountains in 2014 by Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania.

This initiative is part of broader efforts to reestablish the species across Europe, where around 7,000 bison now roam freely.

Yale researchers have developed a computer model to quantify the carbon captured by wildlife reintroduction.

The model, peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, reveals that rewilding can enhance an ecosystem’s carbon capture capacity by 60—90%.

This potential increase, estimated at 6.4 billion tons of carbon annually, aligns with top strategies for reducing emissions, such as transitioning to renewable energy.

The team continues to apply this model globally, with the Romanian bison study providing the first promising results.

Read more: EU To Provide $30M For Carbon Removal Projects

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