PRESCRIPTIVE GRAZING FOR VEGETATION MANAGEMENT IN NATURAL LANDSCAPESCategory: 2021, Current, Grant, Land Use, Major Project
Southern Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative and Grasslands Restoration Forum
Healthy grasslands provide many ecological services including capture and beneficial release of water, maintenance of soil/site stability, carbon sequestration, nutrient and energy cycling, net primary production, provision of wildlife habitat and functional diversity of plant species. However, native grasslands are steadily and increasingly declining and deteriorating from multiple land use pressures. Municipalities, conservation organizations and private land managers in urban and rural settings across Alberta are turning to the use of targeted grazing as an ecologically friendly tool to control weeds and invasive agronomic vegetation to assist in the recovery of ecosystem function.
Targeted or prescriptive grazing can be defined as the use of a specified kind of livestock at a determined season, duration and intensity to accomplish defined vegetation and landscape goals. It is a relatively new, but increasingly popular, tool in western Canada and easily accessible information to guide the successful implementation of targeted grazing projects in western Canadian grassland and forested ecosystems is limited.
The Grassland Restoration Forum has teamed up with the Blood Tribe Land Management of the Kainai First Nation to help address this gap in knowledge and training. Building on a previous project supported by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance Inc., this new partnership involves the development of a guide to aid the design of project specific grazing prescriptions, and field-based training workshops to assist in successfully monitoring targeted grazing projects. This project will help ensure targeted grazing projects achieve the desired positive outcomes that improve the function and resilience of grasslands.