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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
Grasslands are critical for people, nature, and the climate, yet we are plowing them up for cropland at an astounding, unsustainable rate. WWF's 2023 Plowprint Report shows that 1.6 million acres of grassland habitat were destroyed in the Great Plains across the US and Canada in 2021. Since 2012, we've lost 32 million acres, plowed up primarily for row crop agriculture.
Healthy grasslands are invaluable. They provide critical habitat for plants and wildlife, store vast amounts of carbon that help mitigate the climate crisis, provide livelihoods and food security to rural communities and Native Nations across the region, and support a vibrant ranching industry.
Good public policy is one of the best tools available to turn the tide of destruction in the Great Plains. We cannot afford to lose any more of this precious ecosystem; we have already lost 70% of America's prairies, and only 377 million acres remain across the Great Plains—much of which is privately owned and managed.
To reverse current trends, we must address the policies that are encouraging grassland plow-up, bolster investment in programs keeping them intact, and support sustainable, grass-based agriculture.
We must act now to maintain grassland systems for agriculture, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration, both for today and for future generations. Policy is a key lever we must pull to make this happen.