Nearly 1.8 million acres of grasslands were destroyed across the US and Canadian Great Plains in 2020 alone, according to WWF’s seventh-annual Plowprint Report. Each year, the report analyzes plow-up that occurred two years prior to the report’s release.
Since 2016, a total of almost 10 million acres have been plowed across the region, which is an area nearly as large as New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined.
“We rely on grasslands for pollinators, clean water, and healthy air,” said Martha Kauffman, VP of WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program. “When grassland habitats are plowed up, it puts all of us in jeopardy. But with the right policies, incentives, stewardship, and increased efficiencies, we can stop the destruction and even expand native grasslands, ensuring that they’ll be around for generations to come.”
Indeed, one of the best mechanisms we have for curbing the destruction of grasslands is policy. That is why this year’s report also features several policy-based opportunities and recommendations to help conserve more acres of grassland, including the recently introduced North American Grasslands Conservation Act (NAGCA) and the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill. Both policies offer incentives for voluntary landowner-driven conservation efforts that could result in positive impacts for years to come for the region’s rural communities and irreplaceable ecosystems.