Grasslands are rare, unique, life-sustaining ecosystems that house a great diversity of plants, animals and insects. More than 30 percent of British Columbia’s threatened or endangered species depend on grasslands for their survival. BC’s grasslands represent less than one percent of the provincial land base and are one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems. In fact, ‘ancient’ grasslands represent a much more endangered space in BC and across Canada than do ‘ancient,’ or old growth, forests!
The BC Grasslands Mapping Project
In 2000, the GCC determined that despite the significance of grasslands in BC, the province did not have adequate information and a clear provincial picture on their abundance, distribution and status. With ever increasing pressures on a relatively small land base, managers and decision makers needed to be able to effectively address key issues and threats to grasslands, such as forest encroachment, weed invasion, subdivision of agricultural & grazing land, inappropriate grazing practices, abusive recreation and urban expansion. The GCC realized that without the necessary baseline information to guide land management practices, the long-term sustainability of BC’s grasslands was questionable
Providing this timely baseline information was the challenge undertaken by the BC Grasslands Mapping Project. The project used existing information from around British Columbia to build a grasslands Geographic Information System (GIS) and associated 1:20 000 scale maps for the whole province. Grasslands mapping filled a critical need and provided solid baseline information on a provincial scale that government, as well as wildlife, recreation and range management interests can have confidence in.
The BC Grasslands Mapping Project was a joint effort between the GCC, government and non-government organizations completed in 2004.
Priority Grasslands Initiative
The next step in the project was to use of the grasslands GIS to identify priority grassland areas across the province.
This phase was called the Priority Grasslands Initiative.
For more information about the Priority Grasslands Initiative, click here.