Large herbivores can reduce forest fire risks

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by German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Red deer (Cervus elaphus) hind, Glen Garry, Highland. Credit: Charlesjsharp/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0 The use of large herbivores can be an effective means to prevent and mitigate wildfires, especially in places facing land abandonment. They can replace much more costly solutions like firefighting or mechanical vegetation removal. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), published in the Journal of Applied Ecology . They provide suggestions for fire and agricultural policies in Europe and globally In many parts of the world, socio-economic drivers are causing large-scale land abandonment. Nomadic practices and pastoralism are decreasing worldwide as well. As a result, areas gradually grow over with bushes, and trees accumulate combustible plant material. Established firebreaks are lost. These processes lead to a higher risk and greater intensity of wildfires. Currently, one of the main responses to this risk is to invest in firefighting capacity. While this can be effective in fighting wildfires once they occur, more promising strategies involve avoiding intense wildfires in the first place. Researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University, the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research […]

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