Nature Canada

Hundreds of plant species and more than 60 species at risk depend on Canada’s grasslands. These landscapes store an estimated two to three billion tons of carbon in their root systems and soil, making up some of the highest carbon stocks in the world.

Only about 25% of native grasslands remain.

Over the past two and a half decades, Canada has lost 25 million acres of grasslands. Since 1970, grassland bird populations have fallen by 57%, and populations of species dependent on native grasslands have fallen 87%. 

Grasslands have been home to Indigenous nations for thousands of years, who long held a deep and symbiotic relationship with land and species, including millions of buffalo roaming the area. Reconciliation with Indigenous people, and Indigenous leadership is critical to protecting and restoring native grasslands. This is already in evidence by initiatives such as the reintroduction of bison and other threatened species.

1. Protect

Protecting these areas ensures that the carbon stays in the ground and provides much-needed habitat.

Grassland Protection →

2. Manage

Managing our remaining grasslands to promote health and enhancements is critical. 

Grassland Management →

3. Restore

It is possible to restore degraded grasslands with significant benefits for climate and biodiversity.

Grassland Restoration →

Measures for Grassland Protection

Only 1% of the remaining grasslands in Alberta and Saskatchewan are protected. 

Protecting and restoring remaining grasslands is critical to keeping greenhouse gases in the ground, providing habitat for declining grassland species, while recognizing Indigenous title and rights. These measures include:

  • A moratorium on future conversion of native Prairie grasslands to crop agriculture 
  • Incentives for avoided conversion to cropland 
  • Expanding protected areas in prairie grasslands, including Indigenous Protected and Conserved areas
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Measures for Grassland Protection

Only 1% of the remaining grasslands in Alberta and Saskatchewan are protected. 

Protecting and restoring remaining grasslands is critical to keeping greenhouse gases in the ground, providing habitat for declining grassland species, while recognizing Indigenous title and rights. These measures include:

  • A moratorium on future conversion of native Prairie grasslands to crop agriculture 
  • Incentives for avoided conversion to cropland 
  • Expanding protected areas in prairie grasslands, including Indigenous Protected and Conserved areas

Managing Grasslands Remains Critical

Much of this land is privately owned by farmers and ranchers. There are ways in which these areas can be managed to ensure the health of native grasslands and the enhancement of ecological services they provide. These include: 

  • Managing grazing patterns to minimize overgrazing
  • Not draining wetlands
  • Creating a buffer zone around waterways and wetlands
  • Fencing off wetlands and waterways to protect them
  • Adapting farm management practices to reduce agricultural spread into grasslands and forests
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More on Grassland Restoration

Although degraded native grasslands are very difficult to restore to their original state, it is possible to restore significant benefits for climate and biodiversity. A key point to emphasize in grassland restoration is to ensure native grassland species are chosen

More on Grassland Restoration

Although degraded native grasslands are very difficult to restore to their original state, it is possible to restore significant benefits for climate and biodiversity. A key point to emphasize in grassland restoration is to ensure native grassland species are chosen

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Examples

Taking Action in Canada

  • Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands: The program provides incentives to ranchers who protect species at risk habitat on their land.
  • Restoring 71: A landowner project to protect and restore a piece of grassland using both passive (letting areas grow without disturbance) and active restoration techniques (strategically planting native plants).

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

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