Researchers found few regional grassland ecosystems remain relatively intact, and they discuss the importance of seven remaining grassland regions in the world to large-scale conservation. These seven grasslands have persisted over the last several decades in the face of large-scale threats, including land conversion, expansion of woody species, and plant invasions.Large and intact landscapes are better able to withstand ecological change, provide more and better wildlife habitat, and are more capable of buffering the effects of global climate change. Additionally, conserving large, intact grasslands is more cost-effective and efficient than restoring them once they become degraded.
Explore the last continuous grasslands in the United States here.
Scholtz, R., & Twidwell, D. (2022). The last continuous grasslands on Earth: Identification and conservation importance. Conservation Science and Practice, e626.
This analysis revealed three findings of critical conservation importance. First, only a few large, intact grasslands remain. Second, every continent with a grassland ecoregion considered in this study contains at least one relatively intact grassland ecoregion. Third, the largest remaining continuous grasslands identified in this analysis have persisted despite last centuries’ anthropogenic pressures and have the best chance to withstand 21st-century pressures of global change.
We discuss how these regions are of critical conservation importance to global grassland conservation efforts under anthropogenically driven global change. They provide essential ecosystem services, play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change, serve as critical repositories for grassland biodiversity, are foundational for continental migration pathways, hold unique cultural heritage, and people’s livelihoods depend upon their persistence.