Non-Human Predators Essential for Ecosystems
Olympic National Park [search] in Washington state is protected, but still ecologically threatened due to the extirpation of wolves [ark]. Turns out that without its top predators, the ecosystem suffers “trophic cascade” [search], whereby prey species become too numerous, over-grazing natural vegetation, and innumerable additional follow-on effects occur. Protected areas in the U.S. and throughout the world are generally too small to support viable populations of their top predators — and in others they have been deliberately slaughtered — and as a result “protected” ecosystems are collapsing.
Large, connected, strictly preserved terrestrial ecosystems with intact ecological core areas [ark] are a prerequisite for a livable Earth. It is critical that remaining wildernesses not be whittled down to token, small protected areas; and that already altered natural habitats are assisted to restore themselves to be larger and more connected. A whole range of ecosystem services including water availability and carbon retention depends upon ending destruction and diminishment of ancient forests and other natural habitats, and ushering in an era of ecological restoration. We can start with the reintroduction of wolves [search] and other locally absent predators to all areas large enough for their sustenance.