A new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) policy paper outlines the steps the US government must take to protect America’s grassland prairie ecosystems. Grasslands are important for biodiversity and environment because they contain around one-third of global terrestrial carbon stores and provide crucial resilience in the face of climate change. They are also necessary for survival and food security. Despite this, we plow up millions of acres of grasslands each year, destroying more than 70% of America’s prairies.
World Wildlife Fund
The brief illustrates how certain well-intended measures, such as federal crop insurance payments and the Renewable Fuel Standard, have unwittingly encouraged grassland conversion. It also explores how existing and planned initiatives and laws might prioritize grasslands.
“World leaders are scratching their heads to find solutions to the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change,” said Suzy Friedman, WWF’s senior director of food policy. Meanwhile, there is an apparent one right in front of us: stop killing our American grasslands, which are biodiversity hotspots and carbon sinks, as well as cultural and economic assets. The United States government can use common-sense policy to turn the tide and safeguard these crucial habitats for the benefit of all of us.”
Among the specific policy initiatives outlined in the brief are:
- Modifications to the Renewable Fuel Standard
- Concerns about crop insurance subsidies
- Advancing important conservation possibilities in the 2023 Farm Bill
- preserving and expanding IRA financing for grasslands, conservation, and climate-smart agriculture
- Food consumption reduction