Biodiversity Research Institute Announces Publication of New Scientific Paper on Benefits of Savannah Fire Management in Africa

Newswise – Portland, ME — Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), Announces Publication of Scientific Article Management of savannah fires can generate enough carbon revenue to help restore African rangelands and fill funding gaps for protected areas in the December issue of the journal A land. The new study builds on a history of collaborative and independent research conducted by BRI, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Soils for the Future, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) that culminated in this study. article, which quantifies the benefits of savannah fire management in Africa.

“It is essential to raise awareness of the untapped potential of carbon revenues that would support the management of protected areas in Africa,” says Tim Tear, Ph.D., director of the BRI’s climate change program and lead author of the article. . “This study provides the first credible estimates based on solid data and proven methodologies that clearly show the significant potential for substantial long-term economic and ecological benefits. Given the positive social and biodiversity impacts that accompany the journey, we can only hope that with better understanding, more public and private investment will follow. “

Many savanna-dependent species in Africa, including large herbivores and top predators, are increasingly threatened with extinction. The estimated costs to achieve effective management of protected areas in Africa where lions live could reach $ 2 billion (USD) per year. Researchers explored the potential of fire management-based carbon finance programs to bridge this finance gap and benefit degrading savanna ecosystems.

The co-authors of this work have published related articles and their research is incorporated into this new article.

“These discussions started in 2012, and it’s exciting to see how good ideas can take root and gain momentum,” says Geoff Lipsett-Moore, Ph.D., Carbon Zones Specialist for TNC Australia, co -author of this study and main author of the related study, Emissions mitigation opportunities for savannah countries through fire management at the start of the dry season.1 “The many years of savannah fire management in northern Australia that have directly benefited Aboriginal communities provides clear proof of concept that fire management based carbon projects can work. We hope that similar benefits will soon be possible in Africa. ”

Of the 256 protected areas with lions examined in this study, 198 had potential for GHG reduction through fire management, covering a total area of ​​nearly 1.1 million square kilometers. “Many protected areas in Africa are degraded or are at risk of degradation in the very near future due to the intense pressures exerted by the expansion of human populations and the extraction of resources by local and international companies”, says Peter Lindsey, Ph.D., director of WCN Lion Recovery Fund, co-author of this study and lead author of the related study, Over $ 1 billion required annually to secure Africa’s protected areas with lions.2

“If we don’t act quickly to address this growing threat, years of investing in establishing protected areas will quickly be wasted. If we allow protected areas to be lost and converted to alternative land uses, the release of carbon could be catastrophic, not to mention the loss of biodiversity. Investing in smarter carbon projects that create direct benefits for protected areas and the people who live around them is essential for the future not only of lions, but for all biodiversity in Africa.

The results of this collaborative work demonstrate that savannah burning methodologies could generate carbon revenues for many protected areas in Africa, and when combined with soil and forest carbon pools, the potential is considerable. bigger. “Most carbon projects don’t consider that they could get additional credits by adding activities from other methodologies, like fire management, that remove greenhouse gases to different carbon pools. These possibilities represent missed opportunities to increase the value of land from a carbon credit perspective, ”says Mark Ritchie, Ph.D., co-author of this study, founder of Soils for the Future and author of one. carbon methodologies highlighted. In this article.

“African savannas are rarely considered in terms of carbon value, but it’s time they were,” says Luke Hunter, Ph.D., co-author and executive director of the WCS Big Cats program. “The simple step of change when savannah fires are lit sets off a chain reaction of positive and self-reinforcing impacts: healthier and richer landscapes, more lions and their prey, and less carbon released into the world. atmosphere. If rich countries pay to lock in that carbon, we could generate the essential funding that would help protect these beautiful places and support the communities that live in and around them.

This study shows how the introduction of fire management programs at the start of the dry season could generate potential carbon revenues from a single carbon finance method (avoided emissions) or multiple sequestration methods. The potential carbon revenues for savannah protected areas range from US $ 1.5 million to US $ 44.4 million per year per protected area.

Beyond the financial income from carbon credits, another important value of this work is the potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “If it were possible to implement fire management programs in all protected areas that would benefit from this approach, the total estimated annual carbon equivalents are around 12 million metric tonnes from GHGs alone,” says Nicholas Wolff, TNC Principal Investigator. . “This is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide captured by almost half a billion trees each year, or the equivalent of Tanzania’s annual fossil fuel emissions. If we also consider the carbon sequestration potential of fire management, that number jumps to 131 million metric tonnes, or about 40% of the UK’s annual fossil fuel emissions, or the annual emissions of nearly 30 million of cars.

In 2021, the United Nations announced their Decade of ecological restoration with the aim of preventing, stopping and reversing the degradation of ecosystems around the world. “We are encouraging investment in fire management programs to launch the United Nations Decade of Ecological Restoration,” says Dr Tear. “Global attention and cooperation is needed to help restore degraded African savannas and conserve key herbivores at risk and leading predators. “


Biodiversity Research Institute, headquartered in Portland, Maine, is a nonprofit ecological research group whose mission is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use the scientific discoveries to advance environmental awareness and inform decision-makers. The BRI supports ten research programs within four research centers. For more information on the BRI climate change program, visit –

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Nature Conservation (TNC) is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s most difficult challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We fight climate change, conserve land, water and oceans on an unprecedented scale, provide food and water sustainably, and help make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that involves local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners. To find out more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

A key indicator of soil health is the amount of its carbon-rich organic matter. Soils for the future addresses issues related to soil – the source of nutrients and water for crop production in agriculture, animal production, biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods. We provide management solutions or data analytics to help people change the way they use the land, whether through agricultural practices, grazing management, fire management, forestry or other activities. , to improve soils and obtain soils richer in carbon.

the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) save wildlife and wild places around the world through science, conservation, education and inspiring people to value nature. To accomplish our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its global conservation program in nearly 60 countries and across the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people each. year. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos and the aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: To follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: +1 (347) 840-1242.

the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), based in the United States, is a 501 (k) nonprofit that protects endangered wildlife by supporting environmentalists around the world. WCN provides its partners with capital, strategic capacity building services, training and operational support.


1 Lipsett-Moore, GJ, Wolff, NH, & Game, ET (2018). Emissions mitigation opportunities for savannah countries through fire management at the start of the dry season. Nature communication, 9(1), 1-8.

2 Lindsey, PA, Miller, JR, Petracca, LS, Coad, L., Dickman, AJ, Fitzgerald, KH, … & Hunter, LT (2018). More than a billion dollars are needed each year to secure Africa’s protected areas with lions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(45), E10788-E10796.

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