Nature’s beautiful and feared predator is also the most endangered animal. Over the years, the tiger population has been on the decline on account of poaching for their bones, skin, and other body parts. It famously triggered the ‘Save the Tiger’ universal campaign to create awareness for tiger conversation.
But does tiger conversation also help in keeping the planet cool? Aakash Lamba, a researcher at the Centre for Nature-based Climate Change Solutions at the National University of Singapore, claims as much.
According to a national daily, the research reveals that tiger protection prevents the release of more than one million tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. These emission reductions reduce the negative impacts on the environment, which are estimated to cost over Rs 769 crore.
“Through our findings, we see that protecting tigers is a win-win scenario given the substantial climate change mitigation benefits from tiger conservation efforts. This study is an important step towards demonstrating that wildlife conservation and addressing climate change are two sides of the same coin,” Lamba told the newspaper.
The study is based on sophisticated modelling techniques (synthetic controls) to show how much carbon biomass forest would have been lost had the NTCA not prioritised tiger reserves. “We are comparing protected areas (PAs) having tiger reserve status with other PAs that did not have this added designation. Out of the 53 tiger reserves in India, we analysed 45,” Lamba was quoted as saying. “Here we estimate the forest carbon storage co-benefits of a national policy intervention for tiger (Panthera Tigris) conservation in India. We used a synthetic control approach to model avoided forest loss and associated carbon emission reductions in protected areas that underwent enhanced protection for tiger conservation.”
The daily adds that while over a third of the analysed reserves showed mixed effects, 24% of all reserves successfully reduced the rate of deforestation and the remaining 9% reported higher forest loss. The policy had a net positive benefit with over 5,802 hectares of forest loss which was avoided. It corresponded to emissions of 1. 08 million tonnes of CO2 between 2007 and 2020, the report mentioned. This translates to Rs 769 crore in ecosystem services from the avoided social cost of emissions, it added.
Lamba said, “Our findings offer an approach to quantitatively track the carbon sequestration co-benefits of a species conservation strategy and thus help align the objectives of climate action and biodiversity conservation.”