By Ian Cook, Grassland Conservation Manager, Birds Canada
The Prairies, with their rich biodiversity, are one of the most important ecosystems for birds in North America. This article is the second installment in a three-part series exploring the connections between the Canadian Prairies, prairie producers, and birds.
Prairie plants and animals evolved alongside free-roaming bison and the pressure of their continuous grazing. With the loss of the bison, cattle and other livestock are now filling the niche of the grazer, which is vital to the health of the prairie ecosystem. Grazing livestock maintain the variety of vegetation heights that grassland birds need, enhance the diversity of plants, and even improve carbon sequestration. The vast majority of the remaining grasslands in Canada are owned by cattle and livestock producers. In essence, this makes livestock producers the guardians of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, the prairie grasslands, and integral to the survival of our grassland birds!
‘What We’re Reading’ is a quick look at some of the issues and insights Alberta Beef Producers’ content creators and editors are reading to stay up-to-date, to broaden perspectives, and to explore issues relevant to the agriculture industry.