Consuming sustainably sourced wild meat instead of domesticated livestock reduces greenhouse gas emissions and retains precious tropical forest systems, which in turn mitigates the effects of climate change.

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That’s according to new research from the University of East Anglia and Brazil’s Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul, published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

The research team also estimated the carbon credit value of emissions from tropical forest communities who consume wild meat instead of domesticated livestock.

André Nunes from the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul and Carlos Peres, Professor of Conservation Science at UEA, working with Brazilian and Danish colleagues, looked at people living in both Afrotropical and Neotropical countries, including Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia.

The team estimated potential revenues from the sale of associated carbon credits and how this could generate financial incentives for forest conservation and sustainable wildlife management through PES and REDD+ projects.

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are a range of schemes through which the beneficiaries, or users, of ecosystem services provide payment to the stewards, or providers, of those services. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is a multilateral carbon credit trading mechanism enabling polluters in usually high-income countries to pay low-income countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Based on 150,000 residents in the Amazonian and African forests, the researchers found that an annual per capita consumption of 41.7kg of wild meat would spare 71 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2-eq) under a bovine beef substitution scenario, and 3 MtCO2-eq if replaced by poultry.

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