AUSTIN (KXAN) — Climate change is causing glaciers to melt rapidly around the world. This melting is causing the land left to become dangerous and unstable. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin did research on this topic in partnership with institutions in Peru.
It is not only the melting creating dangerous soils but also land rushes for mining and drainage of acid rock that foster a disrespect for local land rights.
Bring on the llamas. Yes, llamas. Llamas brought onto this land, when managed by local herders, were helping to stabilize the soils and the ecosystem formation. There is also faster plant succession, something that occurs over time.
The researchers at UT worked with a group called Llama 2000 Asociación. The soil in Peru that was exposed by glacial melting was found to be low in proper and needed nutrients.
Here’s what they did. They worked at the exposed edge of the Uruasharaju glacier in the Cordillera Blanca. In this area they created 925-square-meter-plots. Half housed the llamas and half did not.
The soil quality was monitored in all the plots from 2019 to 2022. They found the soils where llamas grazed showed a huge increase in the organic carbon and nitrogen levels along with a 57% increase in plant cover. Their “work” on the soil also meant that the time to stabilize the soil would take hundreds of years.
Why did the llamas have such a positive impact? The increase in soil fertility in the llamas land area had to do with the animals’ dung, fur, and glazing. In studying the dung they found that llamas could act as seed redistributors.
An interview Professor Beach on the research is available in the video player at the top of this story.