COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION
THREE COUNTRIES WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR SHARED ENVIRONMENT
Migratory birds and cattle ranchers in North America have a lot in common; they are both largely dependent on healthy grasslands for a good life. Ranchers have witnessed the rapid loss of native grasslands due to pressures such as expanding cultivation, urbanization and desertification. The loss of grassland is also threatening to cause the extinction of several bird species, including the last- known native populations of desert-dwelling Aplomado falcons in North America, as well as other animals.
This year, the CEC brought together grassland experts from the three countries and took the first steps towards a continental partnership of ranchers, bird conservationists, and government agencies to work together to stem the loss of the grasslands. One of the breakthroughs of the partnership was the incorporation in June 2012 of the Regional Alliance for the Conservation of the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands, a binational alliance of government and nongovernmental partners to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the grasslands of northern Mexico.
Grasslands experts have also begun compiling beneficial management practices to assist ranchers in conservation efforts. These practices, which will be published for distribution in all three countries in early 2013, advocate techniques such as allowing rest periods for pastures (through a multi-paddock system, for example) to increase vegetative vigor. This change in vigor can result in a significant increase in the forage available in a very short period of time.
A smaller group of experts is also looking at market-based incentives that can support sustainable ranching practices. These incentives would allow private landowners to improve their bottom line, while conserving grasslands.
For more information, visit www.cec.org/grasslands.