Researchers claim that moose are potentially a leading cause of climate change and that the species should be balanced, suggesting they are “one of the biggest potential single sources of carbon emissions from wooded parts of Norway.”
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied moose in Norwegian forests for several years and concluded that the species have a major effect on vegetation growth and are altering the carbon cycle by dining on tree buds. “Moose are an ecosystem engineer in the forest ecosystem, and strongly impact everything from the species composition and nutrient availability in the forest. A grown animal can eat 50 kilograms of biomass each day during summer,” Gunnar Austrheim, an ecologist at the NTNU University Museum, said in a press release.
Moose tend to eat birch and young samplings in clearcut forests, an act researchers claim is where the ungulates “gobble up” possible carbon storage in trees.
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“It was really a surprise to see how much moose can influence vegetation growth, the carbon cycle and the climate system,” said Xiangping Hu, a researcher at NTNU’s Industrial Ecology (IndEcol), said in the release.
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The study also claimed that moose were not only bad for the climate but aided the forest industry.
The solution suggested to the latest climate change theory was to balance moose numbers and forest management in an effort to limit CO2 emissions. “We don’t only regulate the amount of animals, we very carefully regulate the proportion of females, males and calves. So there’s a stronger management for moose than for most livestock in Norway,” Francesco Cherubini, director of IndEcol Programme said. “I think as we get more of an understanding of how all these different things are interrelated, land managers could come up with an optimal plan. That could be a much-needed win-win solution for climate, for biodiversity and for timber value.”
The moose is not the first animal on climate activists labeled a potential threat to the climate after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) linked “farting cows” to causing climate change.
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In 2019, the congresswoman suggested “we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner” in her effort to reduce carbon emissions coming from cows.
“We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, emissions in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” Ocasio-Cortez’s FAQ page for the Green New Deal read.