The Canadian Cattle Association, along with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada hosted a dialogue on on climate adaptation through sustainable livestock systems.
The event explored bridging the nexus of climate change and biodiversity loss through cross-cutting themes of sustainable production systems and food security as attendees discussed the implications of grassland conversion and sustainable food production as producers feed a growing population.
At the close of the event, the organizations were excited to highlight efforts currently underway on the Grasslands Conservation Initiative, an industry-led proposed initiative by CCA providing a multi-pronged approach to protect biodiversity, contribute to global food security, and restore agricultural lands and habitats.
This initiative is a leading example of the power of partnerships. By working with conservation partners like DUC, NCC, and Canada’s ranching community, the organizations look to deliver solutions that ensure grasslands remain a foundation for thriving communities and contributes to Canada’s biodiversity and climate goals.
"Canadian cattle producers are environmental leaders, stewarding the land that provides habitat and producing nutrient-dense protein for consumers at home and around the world," said Nathan Phinney, CCA President, "If we want to get serious about conserving grasslands and ensuring cattle ranchers can continue to be economically sustainable as well, we need serious collaboration, partnerships and investment, including from Government as a catalyst to support grassland conservation."
Much of Canada’s remaining grasslands are owned or managed by livestock producers, with the majority being cattle ranchers. Sustainable ranching in Canada supports resilient landscapes and positively contributes to global climate and biodiversity goals.
Grazing animals are an important function in a healthy grassland ecosystem and the absence of grazing cattle from the landscape threatens the existence of one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.
"Grasslands are some of the most important ecosystems in Canada. They are biodiversity hotspots and provide invaluable ecosystem services, helping natural systems and communities alike to respond to climate change," said Michael Nadler of Ducks Unlimited Canada, "They are also one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Taking collective action now to advance grassland conservation will help to ensure that these critical habitats continue to support biodiversity while also mitigating the impacts of a warming climate."
Heading into COP28, the organizations say the global community is facing unprecedented challenges including but not limited to increased food insecurity, rapid biodiversity decline, and degradation as well as fragmentation of integral agricultural land and habitats like grasslands.
They say that Canada will have the opportunity to lead by example at the upcoming COP28 event.
"Without active intervention, vast tracts of Canadian Prairie grasslands and the promise they hold will be lost. We need to take unprecedented action to protect this essential ecosystem and the potential loss of critical biodiversity," said Catherine Grenier, President & CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, "The only way we can do this is through collective action, where government, not-for-profits, industry, and communities work together. These kinds of collaborations are the key to ensuring a nature-positive future for us all."