Broader societal engagement can help to drive the conservation and sustainable use of the grasslands through increasing understanding and appreciation of the role of grasslands in the provision of ecological services and food production; using messaging focused around the ecological and economic costs associated with the loss of grassland; and branding and certifying environmentally and economically sustainable ranching as a grassland-friendly land use.
Current and future stewards can be further engaged by recognizing that ranching and conservation are mutually beneficial; involving ranchers in conservation planning and policy discussions; and highlighting the links between conservation, ranching, and the use of beneficial management practices in primary education, extension programs and outreach to rural communities.
Ranch economic sustainability can be improved through communicating that economically sustainable ranchers and ranching communities are the keystone to conservation success; and improving ranch profitability through:
- The development and implementation of a wide variety of outcome-based beneficial management practices,
- Incentive tools that help achieve economic parity with alternate land uses, and
- Improved competitiveness of conservation incentives, risk insurance and other programs for ranchers.
Agricultural and environmental policy can become more compatible by eliminating policies and incentives that promote the loss of grasslands; improving markets and economic returns for grass-based alternate land uses, by improving communications and linkages between government agencies with differing mandates and between different levels of government; and increasing involvement of agricultural and environmental government agencies in conservation initiatives.
Research and monitoring can better meet the economic and ecological needs of the grasslands by increasing funding for research and monitoring; engaging institutions in grassland research and monitoring; communicating research findings and monitoring results to key audiences; and deepening and broadening research and monitoring efforts to better inform conservation in working landscapes including:
- Valuing ecological services;
- Targeting beneficial management practices, protection and enhancement to prioritized habitats, species and threats;
- Incorporating economic and social components of research required to inform policy and promote conservation ethic; and
- Monitoring conservation programming and practices to inform and improve efficiency.
From the analysis of the nearly one hundred beneficial management practices captured from across North America’s central grasslands for this online tool, several overarching practices emerge that can encourage wider adoption of beneficial management practices by easily conveying their management intents, and can help guide range management decisions to reach both economic and conservation objectives.