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The Ivory Trade isn’t just a Disaster for Elephants. It Threatens our Future too

August 12, 2016 |
The ivory trade isn’t just a disaster for elephants. It threatens our future too

Elephants prop up the forest and savannah ecosystems we need to store carbon. To stabilise the climate, we must stop their slaughter by ivory poachers


“…Until recently, tropical forest trees were valued economically by the outside world only for their beautiful hardwood timber. Enshrined in the Paris climate agreement, however, is a new economic value – the sequestration and storage of gigatonnes of carbon. The inclusion of forest carbon in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate negotiations has been slow and complicated because of the tricky question of permanence. A forest can be here today and felled or burned tomorrow, so how can we guarantee the same storage of carbon per unit area long into the future? The answer is think of forests not as “sticks of carbon” but as forest ecosystems, comprised of thousands of interdependent species of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms. And carbon sequestration and storage is only one of several ecosystem services these forests and woodlands provide.

Elephants, because of their size, appetite and migratory habits, disperse more seeds of more species further than any other animal. Tree species with small seeds such as figs can have them dispersed by birds, fruit bats, antelope, etc. Species with large seeds, such as mangoes and durian, need big animals such as apes and elephants to disperse them, sowing the seeds of the trees of tomorrow. Their dung is important, too, as fertiliser. An adult elephant produces about one tonne of first-class organic manure every week. Germination and seedling survival are much higher for seeds given such a good start in life. This is why ecologists refer to elephants as mega-gardeners of the forest – though elephants play this role in savannah-woodlands too, spreading acacia seeds far and wide (and in so doing, protecting the seeds from weevils that concentrate around the parent tree)…”

Read on at: The Guardian

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