In British Columbia less than one percent of the land is occupied by grasslands. However, grasslands constitute an essential ecosystem as it supports ecological, economical and social interests. It is especially critical for provincial species at risk, as 30% of these species use it as a key habitat. Grasslands support important historical ranching activities in British Columbia and is also used for recreational and transport activities. The majority of grasslands are under public possession.
During the last decades, grasslands have been more and more fragmented and developed due to human expansion and activities. This results in growing loss of grasslands which is of high concern for the Grasslands Conservation Council (GCC) of the province. They organized a workshop in May 2004, open to all stakeholders, inform them, discuss issues, establish areas of prior concern and suggest solutions and tools to address the issues.
The objectives of this report are to analyze and raise understanding about fragmentation and development of grasslands, to provide tools and to propose strategic actions to mitigate the issues and to preserve grasslands on a long term.
Major issues for grasslands preservation emerged from information collected during the 2004 workshop and were used as a basis for further investigation. Stakeholders involved in the preliminary workshop as well as experts of the subject were interviewed by consultants to develop and refine the list of major issues and propose potential solutions and strategies. The list of solutions was filtered by some criteria to point out the priority and more suitable ones on which the Strategic Plan has been elaborated. The criteria are explained in the report.
The first part of the report present the list of major issues correlated to grasslands fragmentation and development. This subject is complex and integrates multiple aspects. Six topics of first concern have been established as the basis for the Strategic Plan. They either concern policy or land use planning and most of those topics encompass issues related to government or economy. One of the main problems related to governmental agencies is their multiplicity with the result that none has the authority to preserve grasslands by itself. Furthermore, grasslands loss receives less attention than grasslands ecosystems. Governmental agencies that are pertinent for the elaboration of the Strategic Plan are described in tables in the report. In the process of improving grasslands preservation and creating a Strategic Plan, local and regional agencies are of crucial importance. There is also concern that government lack staff and budget.
The second part of the report presents solutions addressing the issues selected. As explained previously those solutions arise from the workshop of May 2004 and subsequent interviews. Like the issues, solutions integrate multiple aspects.
It is important to notice that governmental matters are subject to constant evolution and data collected here are only temporarily accurate. Concerns related to the governmental agencies that can have an impact on grasslands issues are discussed in detail in the report. The feasibility and suitability of the solutions and methods proposed were assessed to identify the ones that should be prioritized and that are realizable.
The strategic Plan that arises from this inventory of issues and from the solutions and approaches proposed to address them is presented in detail in the report. An important approach proposed is that everyone can have an impact in tempering fragmentation and development of grasslands.
In summary, the priority recommendations are that
- knowledge and awareness about values and importance of grasslands and the factors affecting it, especially fragmentation and development, need to be improved
- suitable tools need to be developed and existing tools need to be used more appropriately to accurately evaluate and monitor grasslands status,
- more coordination and partnership with all stakeholders concerned about grasslands are required to improve stewardship and preservation of grasslands,
- issues discussed in this report needs to be incorporated into high level plans and policies.
- economical encouragements for landowners that initiate efforts to mitigate grasslands loss should be developed
- local governments should be supported and encouraged to establish strategic tools and approaches to help preserve grasslands
Some actions are provided in the plan as the steps to implement in order to achieve the goals described by the priority recommendations. Predicted results and the agency expected to coordinate the action are identify in the plan. Time frames are also provided with the goal to complete the objectives of the plan in three years with annual assessment of progress.
As a result of a workshop and interview of many stakeholders and experts, issues for British Columbia’s grasslands were identified and approaches and solutions to address them were proposed, prioritized and evaluated in order to keep the more appropriate ones as the basis to establish a Strategic Plan to preserve grasslands in British Columbia. GCC is assumed to take the responsibility to ensure actions provided in the Plan are undertaken.
- Source G.G Runka Land Sense Ltd., Stuart Gale and Associates, Joan Sawicki, Ron Erickson, Janet Fontaine. June 2005. Mitigating the Fragmentation and Development of BC’s Grasslands : Problem Analysis and Strategic Plan. Prepared for The Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. Avaialable at : http://bcgrasslands.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/bc_grasslands_mitigatingfragmentation.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].