Cattle at Val Marie Pasture in Saskatchewan (Photo by Gabe Dipple)

Cattle at Val Marie Pasture in Saskatchewan (Photo by Gabe Dipple)

Working landscapes

Western meadowlark (photo by Jason Bantle)

Western meadowlark (photo by Jason Bantle)


Grasslands are one of the most at-risk ecosystems in the world and are a critical part of the Prairies. Grasslands and the wetlands they contain are important stopovers for migratory birds and provide habitat for waterfowl and imperiled species like the ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, Sprague’s pipit, swift fox and greater sage-grouse. Grasslands support wildlife, provide livestock forage, filter our water, help prevent flooding and droughts, and sequester carbon.

Grassland stewards

Cattle on prairie grasslands (Photo by Tamara Carter)

Cattle on prairie grasslands (Photo by Tamara Carter)

For thousands of years, grasslands have provided sustenance for wildlife and humans. These relationships continue to have ecological, cultural and economic significance, and we proudly collaborate with a broad base of grassland stewards across the Prairies. This includes partnerships with local communities, Indigenous Nations, industry, governments, other conservation organizations, ranchers and grazing groups, helping them to achieve their goals.

Many of the remaining grasslands are owned or managed by livestock producers, with the majority being cattle ranchers. Grazing is a key component to the health of our grasslands. Grazing creates a mosaic of different habitats across grasslands, providing suitable conditions for a greater variety of plants and animals.

NCC works with livestock producers grazing prairie grasslands to help ensure they thrive. By working together to support best management practices on these lands, we can help protect biodiversity while supporting a strong livestock industry.

Community pastures

Community pastures are remarkable prairie landscapes that are managed by producer groups and include over 1.1 million hectares across 137 pastures in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Large intact blocks of habitat like these pastures are becoming increasingly rare. They provide amazing and diverse ecosystems and support many at-risk species including grasslands songbirds.

Swift foxes on NCC site (Photo by NCC)

Swift foxes on NCC site (Photo by NCC)

They also support wildlife that need wide open spaces to roam, such as swift fox, pronghorn, elk and mule deer. Supporting community pastures is important in ensuring the conservation of many of the plants and animals that make Saskatchewan unique, while supporting economic and societal diversity in communities across the prairies.

Conservation of natural and biodiverse landscapes requires a whole-of-society approach. The NCC is proud to partner with many groups sharing our values of conserving and stewarding threatened ecosystems. Sustainable ranching and the conservation of nature go hand in hand. Because of our partners in the livestock industry, tens of thousands of hectares of grasslands across Canada have been conserved from conversion, so nature and livestock can thrive.

For more information, check out the following video about community pastures:

The continued existence and good management of these lands contributes to biodiversity, water quality, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, and a sustainable source of forage. Watch the recording and explore the amazing natural spaces these pastures represent and why they are important for all of us.

Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative – Stewardship Investment Fund

Ranchers and community pastures may be eligible to receive funds to accelerate the adoption of projects to help manage grasslands and improve farm sustainability and viability.

Prairie grazer at Val Marie Pasture in Saskatchewan (Photo by Gabe Dipple)

Prairie grazer at Val Marie Pasture in Saskatchewan (Photo by Gabe Dipple)

Stewardship Investment Program projects include activities such as installing remote water systems, conducting range health assessments, species surveys, weed control, and workshops or classes to improve grassland stewardship. For more information about the grant and how to apply, visit prairiegrasslandsinitiative.ca.

For more information, contact:

Matthew Braun
Program Director, Working Landscapes
Nature Conservancy of Canada, Saskatchewan Region
306-209-9954 or matthew.braun@natureconservancy.ca

Krista Ellingson
Manager, Natural Areas, Working Landscapes
Nature Conservancy of Canada, Saskatchewan Region
306-378-7153 or krista.ellingson@natureconservancy.ca


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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada