Europe Finds Shepherds and Ranchers to Be Key For Preventing Wildfires

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European shepherds and ranchers are taking the lead in forest fire prevention, by leading their animals out to clear away pervasive underbrush that allows fires to grow too big.

Laws once prohibiting such practices are being bent, or rescinded, as rural communities begin taking a key role in forest management.

Square among the proponents for this practice is GrazeLIFE, a publicly-funded science effort seeking to clarify the best way grazers, both domestic and semi-wild, can help increase biodiversity and prevent forest fires.

In flatter or thinner forested areas, large herbivores were found in a 2021 Grazelife study to be significantly effective in reducing forest fire risk.

“In general terms, it is clear that wild and semi-wild herbivores such as horses and bison can reduce wildfire risk through their grazing,” says Julia Rouet-Leduc, lead author of the study. “Such herbivores can be particularly effective in remote and inaccessible areas, where careful management can prevent wildfire and benefit wild nature in other ways.”

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