Until now, grasslands have rarely been a target of international conservation agendas. Although they provide key habitat for wildlife and critical ecosystem services, they are often undervalued because we have not invested the necessary resources to calculate their benefits to people and nature. The Rangelands Atlas fills part of that void.
As fresh snow redecorated the tranquil plains of the Wolakota Buffalo Range, new and precious life entered the world. Two bison calves took their first breaths amid the falling flakes—the first to be born on this ground in at least 140 years.
Every year, the Eastern monarch butterfly flies up to 2,500 miles from its breeding grounds in the US and Canada, all the way down to its hibernation grounds in central Mexico. These tiny creatures have the most highly evolved migratory pattern of any known species of their kind, but this unique phenomenon is under threat.
Twenty-seven swift foxes were brought to the area from Wyoming in September, marking the beginning of a five-year reintroduction program led by the Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes of Fort Belknap.
From 2014 to 2018, tillage of grasslands across the Great Plains occurred at an average rate of four football fields lost every minute. This means that millions of acres of America’s temperate grassland, one of only four left in the world and a critically important ecosystem, is being plowed up for crop production.
The Rosebud Sioux tribe committed 28,000 acres of native grassland for the creation of a new plains bison herd. With a capacity to support 1,500 animals, the Wolakota Buffalo Range will become North America’s largest Native American owned and managed bison herd.
The Northern Great Plains is one of the world’s last great, remaining grasslands. Across its 183 million acres, nearly 132 million remain intact. Among those acres that are still intact, approximately 70% is privately owned, and often by ranching families.
WWF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Model Avionics developed an innovative system to deliver plague protection for black-footed ferrets in the form of peanut butter-flavored baits by drones or all-terrain vehicles to prairie dogs. Recently, the team received a patent for the design—a first for WWF!
They may not be household names, but these ecosystems are vital to the health of our planet. They support an incredible range of plants and animals, as well as millions of people and their communities, and play a critical role in fighting climate change.
WWF’s latest annual study of the extent and impact of conversion of grasslands to croplands reveals that though such activity activity generally declined across the Great Plains in 2017, it has nearly doubled in South Dakota within the same time span.
As shoppers and eaters, we have immense power to save habitats, fight climate change, and keep our planet livable by taking simple actions at home and in stores every day. Here are five steps you can take right now.
World Wildlife Fund Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax ID number 52-1693387) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.