Grassland stewardship is a set of strategies and practices that must be implemented to ensure the long-term health and integrity of the grassland landscape. Stewardship implies understanding, caring for, and maintaining a wide range of values, including those related to grazing. Stewardship is consistent with sustainable use - it does not mean preservation or protection from human use.
Sustainable ranching involves domestic animal grazing practices that maintain and enhance the economic and social viability of a ranching operation, while maintaining the ecological integrity of the grassland landscape on which these operations depend.
For more on how to steward and manage grasslands, visit our Managing Grasslands webpages.
The goals of the Grasslands Stewardship and Sustainable Ranching (GSSR) program are to:
- Maintain and restore grasslands;
- Improve society’s understanding and appreciation of the importance and sensitivity of grassland ecosystems; and
- Keep working ranches working by encouraging stewardship activities, information exchange and partnerships and supporting ranching culture and practices that are ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.
The objectives of the GSSR program are to:
- Foster stewardship of grasslands through information gathering, extension and partnerships that build trust and lead to the development and implementation of grassland stewardship projects and initiatives.
- Identify opportunities and priority locations for the implementation of stewardship initiatives.
- Facilitate the development of appropriate policies and programs that will lead to improved grassland stewardship and sustainable ranching
- Develop tools and implement strategies to inform and limit subdivision and development, fragmentation and conversion of grasslands.
- Encourage inclusive, informed and ecologically based community planning that maintains a viable ranching industry and that helps protect the ecological integrity of BC’s grasslands.
- Strengthen and build partnerships with ranchers and First Nations and share information that will support the sustainable uses of grasslands including grazing.
The GCC is dedicated to and fully engaged in projects and campaigns that support both stewardship and sustainable ranching programs. To learn more about these programs see the links below:
The Planning for Change: Preventing the Fragmentation and Development of BC's Grasslands Initiative was developed to provide municipal, regional, provincial and First Nations’ governments with the appropriate tools and information to mitigate the loss of top priority grassland within and adjacent to grassland communities.
The Grassland Monitoring Project’s primary purpose is to create a Grassland Monitoring Manual to aid ranchers in assessing the condition and trend of their grassland ranges.
The objective of the Mitigating Fragmentation and Development of BC's Grasslands is twofold. The first goal of the project is to bring definition and clarity to the issues that surround fragmentation and development; the second is to provide strategic direction and clear recommendations to government and non-government organizations that can help reduce future loss and fragmentation in grassland regions.
The GCC and the ORV Coalition are working proactively to inform government and other interest groups about the impacts of ORVs and the urgent need to put in place an effective management system, including licensing and registration, so people can be held accountable when they use their off road vehicles in closed areas or in a manner that damages the environment.
The GCC worked with various recreation groups and experts to create the educational and practical pocketbooks designed to inform users of motorized vehicles how to ride in the grasslands without doing major ecological damage.
There are several other components to this program area including:
Green Bylaw Toolkit
The GCC, in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Wetland Stewardship Partnership, has created the Green Bylaws Toolkit, a compendium of existing bylaws and planning tools that can applied when planning around grasslands, wetlands and other sensitive ecosystems. This well designed and convenient Toolkit promises to be a valuable asset to all communities with grasslands within and adjacent to their boundaries.
Grassland Stewardship and Securement Committee
The Stewardship committee will examine the current incentives available for stewardship programs that address grassland conservation in BC and the effectiveness of these incentives.
The Securement committee will work and coordinate with existing land trust, eNGOs and government to facilitate grassland securement and ensure no further loss of priority grasslands or fragmentation of BC’s working grassland landscapes
Collaboration with the Agricultural Land Commission
The work with the Agricultural Land Commission will be undertaken by partners in the BC Trust for Public Lands, though the GCC will continue to have a voice with these partners.
In the past, this program area has also included:
The Hamilton Commonage Project
A coalition was formed to develop a management strategy that would maintain and enhance biological diversity on the Hamilton Commonage. The project was an ambitious and multi-faceted approach to stewardship in action.