AMERICA’S GRASSLANDS NEED RESTORATION
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
While Americans decry the climate consequences of Amazon rain forest destruction, ( which ecologists report has reached a grave state of regenerative impairment) they should take the log out of their own eyes and look at the legacy of the buffalo exterminators and “sod busters” who continue to destroy the magnificent prairies and high plains, once home to vast herds of grassland-nutrient cycling buffalo and antelope and the now endangered Swift fox and other mammals and birds. See Acting for grasslands | Land Trust Alliance https://www.landtrustalliance.org ›
All states must support the North American Grasslands Act. See
Acting for grasslands | Land Trust Alliance https://www.landtrustalliance.org ›
Also, see the Big River Connectivity rewilding (the Mississippi River Watershed ~ 32 states) project: https://www.projectcoyote.org/programs/carnivore-conservation-coexistence/big-river-connectivity/
My friend the late Wes Jackson’s dedicated research and development of a perennial wheat he named Kernza offers a valuable food and fodder crop to help with prairie soil and habitat restoration and carbon-sequestration: A Modern Farmer Conversation: The Wisdom of Wes Jackson …https://modernfarmer.com › 2017⁄03 ›
The rewilding of grasslands would help restore the depleted and chemically contaminated Ogalala aquifer. Reduction in agricultural fertilizer and pesticide use, also given to livestock and poultry along with antibiotics and other drugs, would help reduce contamination of the Great Lakes where fish now pose a health risk to consumers, especially indigenous Anishinaabe communities. After the genocide of prairie and plains Indian tribes who lived sustainably with the buffalo and other wildlife, the U.S. government subsidized cattle ranchers who turned millions of acres of grasslands into semi-desert public “rangelands” from grazing too many livestock, further decimating biodiversity by the relentless extermination of predators.
Tearing up grasslands and using arable land today to produce crops for biofuels is not a “green” energy source since production releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Likewise, the collection of peat from wetlands and draining of wetlands for crop production on peat soils (histosols) turns a major carbon sink into a methane and carbon dioxide emitter. Significant progress has been made, but more needed, to protect all wetlands to sustain natural biodiversity and help control flooding and droughts. (For details see https://www.ducks.org/conservation/public-policy/nawca-north-american-wetlands-conservation-act).
The “rewilding” movement to restore natural terrestrial and aquatic habitats is an essential part of the One Health, One Earth and One Economy paradigm connecting the security and well-being of our own species with that of others that help sustain our collective planetary life -community.