Tallgrass Prairie (Photo by NCC)

Tallgrass Prairie (Photo by NCC)

Saving the world's most endangered ecosystem: grasslands

October 13, 2017
Winnipeg, Manitoba


Learn about grasslands and the species that live there.

People often think of rainforests and coral reefs as the planet’s most critical habitats in need of conservation, but in fact grasslands, including those in Manitoba, are the world’s most endangered ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is holding a NatureTalks speakers’ series event to discuss what can be done about this growing concern.

Choosing the most endangered ecosystems comes down to risk: more than 50 per cent of the world’s grasslands have been converted to crops and other uses, and there are few protected areas. More than 70 per cent of Canada’s prairie grasslands have been converted. The endangerment of grassland habitat in Canada has cascaded into the endangerment of many grassland species.

Grasslands are a working landscape that support a wide range of animals and economies, from large grazers like cattle, which are an integral land management tool for NCC, to the critically endangered Poweshiek skipperling. Grasslands are also important for carbon storage and are critical in preventing flooding by allowing water to infiltrate the ground and hold it. Grasslands are important for carbon storage, with intact native prairies proving to be particularly effective at carbon sequestration and long-term storage in their deep and extensive root networks.

“Manitoba’s grasslands are incredible places teeming with life” says Cary Hamel, conservation science manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada`s Manitoba Region. “Manitoba has four types of grasslands: tall-grass prairie, mixed-grass prairie, fescue prairie and sandhill prairie. They’re the most endangered ecosystems in the province and support thousands of species, including some of the most endangered species in the world.”

To address the importance of grasslands, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private conservation group, is holding a NatureTalks event on October 18 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The discussion will explore the value of grasslands — as a resource, an inspiration and a place that sustains life.

What:     NatureTalks: Why Grasslands Matter
Where:    Canadian Museum of Human Rights, 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg, MB
When:     Wednesday, October 18, 2017
              Doors open at 6:30 p.m., event begins at 7 p.m.

Panellists for the event are:
•    Dan Kraus | senior conservation biologist, Nature Conservancy of Canada
•    Sharon Butala | author, Where I Live Now and The Perfection of Morning
•    Fawn Jackson | executive director, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
•    John Kozlowski | vice-president, corporate services and facilities, Canadian Museum of Human Rights
•    Jeff Saarela | research scientist, botany, Canadian Museum of Nature

Tickets can be reserved in advance at natureconservancy.ca/naturetalkswinnipeg.

TD Bank Group, through the TD Common Ground Project, is the title sponsor for the NatureTalks speakers' series, which is now in its fourth year.

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Christine Chilton
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