The Pleistocene Park Foundation Inc.

The Pleistocene Park Foundation Inc.

Creating Northern Serengeti and Mitigating Climate Change

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About The Pleistocene Park Foundation Inc.

As climate warms, permafrost here in the Arctic is starting to melt. It will soon unlock huge carbon stocks and trigger a catastrophic global warming feedback loop.

Natural grasslands, maintained by numerous grazing animals, have the capacity to both slow climate warming and prevent permafrost from melting. Help Pleistocene Park restore such ecosystems in the Arctic!

“...Pleistocene Park will spread across Arctic Siberia and into North America, helping to slow the thawing of the Arctic permafrost.” - The Atlantic Magazine

"Is trying to save permafrost by restoring the Arctic steppe really so much crazier than counting on humans to quickly retool the world’s energy system? Maybe we need a little craziness. " - The National Geographic

"If it came to pass, it would be the single largest solution or potential solution of the one hundred described in this book” — Project Drawdown

Bison at the Pleistocene Park

Media about the Pleistocene Park

Project is already taking place!
Project was founded by a world know scientist Sergey Zimov back in 1996 and is now run by his son Nikita. Today Pleistocene Park is 2000 hectare of fenced territory and home to over 120 large herbivores, including cold adapted Yakutian horses, moose, musk ox, reindeer, American steppe bison, wisent, yaks, cold adapted Kalmykian cows and sheeps. These animals have shown that it is possible to transform ecosystems and reestablish high productivity grasslands by reintroducing large herbivores.
Over last 25 years Zimovs used every possibility to develop the Pleistocene Park. To bring animals to the Park they  mounted extreme expeditions - traveled by small boat through the Arctic Ocean to Wrangel Island and even drove all the way from Denmark, crossing entire Eurasia with the dozen of bison in the back of the truck

Bison trip, May-June 2019

Pleistocene Park is the successfull experiment, but in order to be able to influence global climate we need to advance it to a much higher level and for that we need your help!
 This crowdfunding campaign is one of our first attempts to invite other people to participate in our project and an important step towards turning the modern Arctic into a northern Serengeti and stop permafrost degradation on a big scale.

Join us in creating a world where we harness nature to protect the planet we live on.
Depending on the level of support money from this campaign will be spent on:
  • Purchase and transportation of new animals for the Pleistocene Park
  • Taking care of animals already living in the Park, allowing them to adapt to the Arctic environment
  • Maintenance of existing fencing and creation of new fenced areas
  • Establishment and continuation of scientific research in the Park to track ecological transformation and support the scientific hypothesis.
  • Salaries for people working in the Pleistocene Park and travel expenses for specialists taking part in the project
  • Expanding the Pleistocene Park territory. Both in the current location and potentially establishing new Pleistocene Parks to cover bigger territory in the Arctic

Area of the Pleistocene Park. White line is the biggest fence, yellow is the oldest fenced area since 1997.

Scientific Background - What Pleistocene Park is reviving and why?

An Artists rendering of what the mammoth steppe looked like

During the last Ice Age, steppes with millions of mammoths, bison, horses, reindeers, tigers, wolves and numerous other animals occupied vast landscapes, spanning from Spain to Canada and from the Arctic islands to China.
Being the world biggest biome, mammoth steppe was as productive as the modern African savannah. These remains we collected on 1 hectare of eroded permafrost. Almost 30 big herbivores were roaming on each square kilometer of these endless pastures.
These vast herds maintained their pastures by cycling nutrients, promoting grass and herb growth, and dramatically increasing the productivity of the pastures. Looking at the modern low productive vegetation and few animals in the Arctic, it is hardly possible for people to imagine, such animal densities could exist in this place in the past. With the end the last Ice Age, the first humans came to this place and quickly killed most animals, driving many species extinct, and destroying the fragile symbiosis between plants and animals. Without herbivores, grasses could not compete with moss or shrubs. A few centuries later this ecosystem was gone.

These animals are roaming together for the first time in 10 thousand years
Melting Permafrost
The Arctic is rapidly getting warmer and permafrost is starting to thaw. On a local scale it means destruction of houses, roads and power lines. In addition, it means death to all modern Arctic ecosystems – the ground collapses, trees topple, canyons and depressions form, and Arctic rivers turn into mud flows with the destruction of fish populations.
However, the global impact of permafrost degradation is even greater. Permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the earth’s atmosphere. When it thaws microbes transform this organic material into carbon dioxide and methane, creating a massive source of greenhouse gases, thus amplifying global warming to an even greater extent.
Melting permafrost at Duvanii Yar. On the right you can see 30,000 year old roots of grass that will decompose and contribute to global warming.
Methane bubbles from degrading permafrost trapped under ice (left). My father lighting methane on fire (right)
How can restoring a lost Ice Age ecosystem mitigate global warming?
There are several mechanisms by which great herds of herbivores, once again roaming the Arctic, can cool the climate and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Animals will prevent permafrost from melting. To make permafrost colder, all that is needed is to remove heat insulating snow cover, and expose the ground to the extreme negative temperatures of the Arctic. In the steppe ecosystems, animal density is so high that animals looking for forage trample all the snow in the pastures several times per winter. This compacts the snow, massively reducing its heat insulating abilities.
This shows how animals trample snow and reduce its insulating value, making the soil colder
  • Grasses through the process of photosynthesis absorb carbon dioxide (strong greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere and preserve it in the form of roots. Cold Arctic soils assure that decomposition is low and roots do not decay for decades, centuries, or millennia. This creates a small but sustainable mechanism to partially absorb human emissions of greenhouse gases. The size of this is of course much smaller than our current human impact, but it is at least a step in the right direction.
  • Vast steppes allow direct cooling of the climate by increasing surface reflectance. Grasslands are much lighter in color than shrublands and forests. Therefore, they reflect a greater portion of direct sunlight energy back into space without transforming it into heat (albedo effect). This effect is especially pronounced in the early spring, when the sun is already active in the Arctic – dark forests absorb heat, while steppes are covered with snow and remain white. This is also why the Arctic Ocean is warming as the Polar ice caps melt.
Difference in colour between grasslands and forest in different seasons.

These animated slides showing ecological effects of promoting steppes, was kindly provided by Revive & Restore, designed by Ben J. Novak

$5,721.12 of $8,000 per month
Reaching this goal will allow us to raise enough money to bring a herd of bison to the Pleistocene Park
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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 21 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 21 exclusive posts

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