Protection site

Climate action must be linked to primate protection •

A new study conducted by Oregon State University (OSU) argued that efforts to conserve the carbon stored in tropical forests would benefit from linking them to policies designed to protect the endangered primate populations that live there. Given that climate change and the biodiversity crisis are two of the major issues currently facing our planet, integrating climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection has greater potential to attract support. policy makers and the general public than trying to tackle climate change in isolation.

“Climate change and the biodiversity crisis are two of the greatest threats to the planet,” said study co-author William Ripple, an ecology professor at OSU. “And it’s becoming clear that large-scale climate action won’t happen if we treat climate change as a stand-alone issue.”

In collaboration with Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral researcher at the same university, Professor Ripple analyzed 340 species of forest primates threatened in terms of the amount of carbon their habitats store. Total forest carbon stocks of 861 gigatonnes include 140 gigatonnes classified as “unrecoverable”. According to Dr. Wolf, among the lands with the highest levels of unrecoverable carbon, 635,000 square kilometers also harbor the highest levels of biodiversity of forest primate species.

In South America, Africa and Asia, for example, many primate species live in “hotspots” – areas with a large amount of unrecoverable carbon that are also rich in primate species diversity. Unfortunately, despite their conservation and climate mitigation value, these hotspots remain largely unprotected.

“The conservation of sunk carbon is obviously an important goal and policies aimed at achieving it could be more attractive and effective if framed in the context of multiple benefits,” Dr Wolf said.

“The effectiveness of the link between sunk carbon and forest primates will depend on the details of policy implementation,” Professor Ripple added. “For example, some primate species may be particularly charismatic and have closely aligned ranges of unrecoverable forest carbon. This opens the door to sustainable ecotourism that could provide funds to save primates and carbon simultaneously.

However, the researchers warn that any policy must consider local conditions and help support indigenous peoples, overall human well-being and sustainability.

“What we stand for will require deep collaboration. And the primates are just one taxonomic order, highly concentrated in the tropics. This means that efforts are needed to examine the overlap between sunk carbon and species from other taxonomic groups, especially in temperate regions. But the primate-carbon connection is an important start,” Dr. Wolf concluded.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By Andrei Ionescu, Personal editor