Interview with Prof. Josef Settele: “Protecting species helps the climate”

On the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day on May 22, Prof. Josef Settele comments on the biodiversity crisis on MDR AKTUELL radio. He names the combination of species loss, climate change and pandemic as a triple crisis and explains how the three crises are fundamentally interrelated and fuel each other:

There are a great many interdependencies between climate protection and biodiversity. If the climate changes, species must also adapt. On the other hand, protecting biodiversity can also have a beneficial effect on the climate, for example by creating wetlands or rewetting peatlands, which are often also habitats for endangered species. If, for example, peatlands are rewetted for species protection reasons or the biodiversity in forest ecosystems with many different tree species is promoted, climate protection is achieved at the same time. Or if species-rich grassland is not converted into arable land because of a certain butterfly species, the CO2 stored in the grassland soil is preserved and is not released.

Compromises can also be made in the energy transition and solutions found for species protection, e.g. through wind turbines in areas with only a few red kites or through suitable shutdown mechanisms. In large solar parks, appropriate grassland management can contribute to species protection. Biomass cultivation for biogas production is to be seen rather critically, both because of the energetic yield and because of the required input. The same applies to biogas production from manure, as this supports a less desirable land use.

What is the connection to the corona crisis? The decline of biodiversity leads to the dominance of single species. For example, deforestation of tropical rainforests creates living conditions that only a few animal species can cope with, but which then occur in high densities. In these animal populations, certain bacteria or viruses can then multiply particularly well and possibly spread to humans who open up these areas anew.

Interview of the week by MDR AKTUELL: Artenschutz hilft dem Klima (Engl.: species conservation helps the climate)