Hunting’s environmental credentials reinforced in new study

How hunting can tackle climate change and maintain sustainable communities

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Widespread sustainable hunting would produce better outcomes for people, protect endangered forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published this week in Nature.

The study looked at the benefits of subsistence hunting in tropical communities and found that hunted meat produces dramatically less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than farmed meat, and it went on to say that the carbon-credit value of this meat production could be used to help save endangered forests such as the Amazon rainforest. 

While the study was focused on tropical regions and subsistence living, the findings could potentially be applied anywhere that hunting for meat is done sustainably.

“Our results highlight that replacing wild meat consumption by forest dwellers across the tropics with domesticated animal protein sources would massively increase the global human carbon footprint through additional emissions from the livestock sector,” the researchers reported. 

It is not the first study to point out the huge difference in GHG emissions between farmed meat and hunted meat, but in this case it went on to connect the need for healthy, intact forests with sustainable hunting

It then took it further by connecting the value of the carbon savings with the cost of protecting forests from commercial interests. 

“The alternative of supplying meat demand through local beef production from ruminant livestock involves deforestation, with strikingly detrimental repercussions for both biodiversity conservation and carbon emissions,” they said.

“As the window for effectively curbing the magnitude of climate change is rapidly closing, concerted strategic planning of climate change mitigation efforts, biodiversity conservation and human well-being, including investments in low-carbon food production, is more critical than ever.”

They concluded, “Carbon credits generated through sustainable wild meat offtake from natural forests can serve the often irreconcilable interests of wildlife conservation, local food security, forest governance, and international climate change mitigation efforts but will require verifiably sustainable wildlife management.”

The researchers admitted there were many problems to face in achieving the scenario they painted.

However, the concepts it encapsulated could be applied beyond the tropical areas where the research took place.

The report comes at the same time the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia (SIFA) continued its push to have governments here take hunting and shooting more seriously. 

“Australians are currently flooding the hunting and shooting sports and incorporating these activities into their daily lifestyles,” SIFA’s executive officer James Walsh said.

“In looking at post COVID economic recovery, Australian governments have the opportunity to get behind Australia’s shooting and hunting industries to develop and grow a sovereign primary industry in Australia and experience the same economic benefits that many other countries enjoy.”

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