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Can Wild Horses Fight Global Warming?

Can Wild Horses Fight Global Warming?

According to Russian scientist Sergey Zimov, reintroducing wild horses to the icy Siberian landscape where they once roamed in droves, will begin to repair the ecological damage brought about by global warming.

A Forbes article (via Straight From The Horses Mouth) elaborates on Zimov’s theory to fill the vast barren lands of Siberia with grass-eating animals in the hope that it will eventually slow global warming. “Some people have a small garden. I have an ice age park,” says Zimov.

How can wild horses effect climate change?

By recreating an ecosystem that disappeared thousands of years ago, Zimov believes that herds of wild animals can turn these frigid areas into grassland. When the wild horses graze on wild grass, the grass stays healthy and their manure nourishes the ground cover. “In winter, the animals trample and flatten the snow that otherwise would insulate the ground from the cold air. That helps prevent the frozen ground, or permafrost, from thawing and releasing powerful greenhouse gases.”

Why wild horses?

The park originated with a herd of 40 Yakutian horses, a semi-wild breed. They are able to survive harsh Siberian winters with the help of their very warm, furry hide. With the reintroduction of the wild horses came the predators. “The challenge is to find the right balance between grazers and predators.”

What is rewilding?

According to The Rewilding Institute, “Rewilding is the scientific argument for restoring big wilderness based on the regulatory roles of large predators. The objective of rewilding Siberia with wild horses is, “To see whether a thriving population of grazing animals will regenerate grasslands that disappeared long ago, which would slow and even halt the accelerating pace of permafrost thaw.” According to the article, the results are encouraging.

Why introduce rewilding to the Arctic?

Climate change effects areas where temperatures are warming fast. “Most climate scientists say human activity, especially industrial pollution and the byproducts of everyday living like home heating and driving cars, is triggering an unnatural warming of the Earth.”

What are your thoughts about reintroducing wild horses into lands where they once roamed? What do you think about rewilding?

Read the full article to learn more about how this project works.

Photo Credit: S.A. Zimov for Science Magazine

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

85 comments

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12:23AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Thanks, they've survived an awful lot so I don't see why they can't!

12:23AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you so much for this article

11:09AM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Absolutely not, why even ask a question like that?

5:21AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:02AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

May be this will help the overpopulation of horses in Europe. That way the rich can spend even more money to eat them! It is interesting that they didn't reintroduce cattle to the lands the horses now roam????? It sounds like they have a better handle on things.

11:46AM PST on Feb 26, 2011

YES reintroducing any species to their habitat, the way it was before humans destroyed it will be beneficial ! Removing the causes of what took these wild horses out of their habitat is just as important to assure they can once again survive there! Yes, doing it for environment is good, and must also make sure it is good for the Horses! Keep them safe in the process.

3:13PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Rewilding appears to be a specific form of restoration. As long as the method is scientifically sound throughout, this sounds like a wonderful idea. It sounds very promising.

9:14PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

Whoops,sorry for the "typo".....I meant "pretty harsh"........keyboard's sticking also! My BAD!

8:35PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

Pewrry harsh & cynical, PastMember! I do "get your" point, but there are still some humans worth saving.

Ann L., the biggest problem the BLM Mustangs have is the BLM! If we could get rid of Salazar, and the anti-wolf bigots, the wild horses would stand much more of a chance. Without predicators SUCH as wolves & cougar, they horses over-breed, yes,and then with the domestic cattle grazing on their rangelands, they DO become affected with starvation. However, we can control their reproductive cycles SO DAMNED easy by catching, gelding & releasing the inferior stud colts & darting & rendering STERILE the worst of the mares, it's pathetic. There is no need to capture & kill and/or adopt out these horses at all.

3:53PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

I want Zimov to come to the USA and wipe out the BLM. All their efforts ( and my tax dollar) are being used to wipe out the American mustang! Let's reintroduce a predator to keep BLM in " check"! Hooray for Zimov!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Thank you.

Thanks! Beautiful photos!

More like Father Time.... The only time I 'dream' is when I'm sleeping... I prefer reality...

Cats, Dogs, & Goldfish are pets. No wild animal should be.

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