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Small Elephants Play Big Role in Fighting Climate Change

September 21, 2020

African forest elephants provide carbon-capture services worth billions by promoting the growth of larger trees. (iStock by Getty Images/guenterguni)

While the African elephant is the largest and the most famous land animal in the world, very few people know anything about the African forest elephant. Forest elephants are smaller and live in densely wooded rainforests. Their numbers are declining thanks to deforestation and poachers and likely face extinction if nothing is done to protect them. Other than local conservationists and the biologists who study them, forest elephants have few advocates. But what if people knew that African forest elephants provide carbon-capture services valued at over $150 billion? And what if those countries that host them could tap into that equity and benefit from their conservation efforts? In this podcast, economist Ralph Chami and ecologist Fabio Berzaghi say placing a monetary value on the services provided by forest elephants could help prevent their demise. Their article, The Secret Work of Elephants, is published in the online edition of Finance and Development Magazine.

Transcript

Ralph Chami is Assistant Director at the IMF Institute for Capacity Development, and Fabio Berzaghi is an Ecologist at the Laboratory for Sciences of Climate and Environment.