The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is launching a $500 million campaign to conserve 500,000 hectares of prairie grassland across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba by the end of 2030.
The NCC calls grasslands “nature’s unsung heroes” and compares them to upside down forests. About 90 per cent of the biomass is hidden underground in vast root systems that absorb carbon dioxide, filter water and mitigate floods and droughts. Grasslands also act as an economic driver and are essential to food security.
Many plant and wildlife species are increasingly threatened by loss of habitat in grasslands and the NCC says often they are overlooked and undervalued.
“For every hectare of grassland that slips away, we not only lose habitat for wildlife and grazing land for cattle but also compromise the resilience of our environment. We can no longer overlook the many benefits grasslands provide us. The time is now to accelerate the conservation of our remaining grasslands for the benefit the planet and our own well-being,” says Tom Lynch-Staunton, regional vice president in Alberta.
Partnership is at the heart of the NCC plan and it says this approach is the only way to slow the loss. The organization is working with communities and collaborating with Indigenous nations on various projects, as well as working with industries and governments.
It says it is expecting to make several high-profile announcements of conservations in the coming months.
NCC has already accomplished many large and significant grassland conservation projects, including The Yarrow, a 1,650-hectare project located near Waterton Lakes National Park.