Saving Our Grasslands: Why They Matter, Why We Are Losing Them, and How We Can Save Them

Grasslands are essential to people, nature and climate. They hold approximately one-third of global terrestrial carbon stocks and provide critical resilience in the face of climate change, including drought, heat and wildfire. Grasslands are also home to a variety of wildlife species and are essential to the livelihoods and food security of communities around the world.

And yet grasslands are critically imperiled ecosystems in the world, with only a few large, intact tracts remaining. More than 70 percent of America’s prairies have been destroyed. In the Great Plains, 1.8 million acres of grassland habitat were lost in 2020, and another 10 million acres were plowed up—all for row crop agriculture. This large-scale habitat loss is a major contributor to the precipitous decline of grassland birds and the loss of vast amounts of sequestered carbon.

To reverse the current trends, two federal policies that are unintentionally encouraging grassland conversion should be revised. More investment should be made to keep grasslands intact and support sustainable, grass-based agriculture.

Read WWF's Saving Our Grasslands: Summary of Recommendations