Nov 2 2017
Unit 1 project Science
Grasslands are some of the most unique ecosystems in the world, but are also considered the most threatened, with the highest concentration of species at risk. CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness society) chapters in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are working to protect these unique landscapes and their rich biodiversity. Grasslands have a wide range of important values, one of which is their intrinsic value, they are an essential part of British Columbia’s and North America’s unique biodiversity and natural heritage. Grasslands are naturally rare and have been substantially reduced by human activities. All of us are reliant on the ecosystem services that grasslands provide, including the safe capture, storage, filtration, and release of water and clean air. Grasslands provide places for recreation, education, eco-tourism, ranching, and hunting.
Over the past 150 years of homesteading and settling, grasslands have become Canada’s most impacted landscape. Grassland ecosystems have suffered major degradations that have led to the extirpation of the plains grizzly along with the near extirpation of over 60 million bison and the wolf. Other unique species such as the pronghorn antelope, swift fox, black footed ferret, black tailed prairie dog, ferruginous hawk, and sage grouse have seen their habitats shrink and become fragmented, and their populations threatened.
Oil and gas development as well as other industrial activities continue to expand into untouched native grasslands. The warm climate and dramatic setting of grassland ecosystems has long attracted human habitation, and today the loss of grasslands is evidenced by extensive vineyards, orchards, hay fields, human settlements, and commercial and industrial developments in southern interior valleys. About one-third of the grasslands area in the Okanagan Basin and Boundary District has been lost to development; the North Okanagan has lost nearly half of its native grasslands. Ongoing population growth will add...