CEC Training Material for Cattle Ranchers Workshops 2014

Presentation 2: North American Grasslands Alliance: A Framework for Change

Lesson Plan: / Presentation 2
Lesson Objectives: / 1.  Provide overview of Framework for Change document
2.  Provide overview of foundational wheel structure
a.  Vision
b.  Principles
c.  Objectives
d.  Enabling conditions
3.  Discuss North America Grasslands Alliance (NAGA) Strategic Priorities
Time Allotted: / 45 minutes
Resources Needed:
PowerPoint: / North America Grasslands Alliance: A Framework for Change
Equipment: / Computer; screen; projector; laser pointer
Facilitator Instructions: / The Framework for Change document should be reviewed by the facilitator well in advance of the presentation. The goal is to make these presentations as interactive as possible. Focus on opportunities to engage the audience and on using localized examples where possible.

Bailey, A.W. and D. McCartney. 2010. Management of Canadian Prairie Rangeland. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. <www.beefresearch.ca/files/pdf/fact-sheets/991_2010_02_TB_RangeMgmnt_E_WEB_2_.pdf.

CEC. 2013. North American Grasslands Alliance: A framework for change. Montreal, Canada: Commission for Environmental Cooperation. 25 pp. www3.cec.org/islandora/en/item/11362-north-american-grasslands-alliance-framework-change.

Free Dictionary, The. Enable. Accessed 18 June 2014. <www.thefreedictionary.com/enable.

North American Waterfowl Management Plan 2012: People Conserving Waterfowl and Wetlands. 2012. <www.nawmprevision.org/sites/default/files/NAWMP-Plan-EN-may23.pdf.

Pellant, M., P. Shaver, D.A. Pyke, and J.E. Herrick. 2005. Interpreting indicators of rangeland health, Version 4. Technical Reference 1734-6. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center, Denver, CO. 122 pp. <www.blm.gov/nstc/library/pdf/1734-6rev05.pdf.

Springer, J. 2012. USDA rainfall insurance protects against dry weather. Ag News and Views. The Sam Roberts Noble Foundation. <www.noble.org/ag/economics/rainfall-insurance.

White, R.P., S. Murray, and M. Rohweder. 2000. Pilot analysis of global ecosystems: Grassland ecosystems. World Resources Institute. Washington, DC. pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnacs567.pdf.

Wright, C.K., and M.C. Wimberly. 2013. Recent land use changes in the Western Corn Belt threatens grasslands and wetlands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110(10): 4134–4139. <www.pnas.org/content/110/10/4134.full.pdf+html.

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CEC Training Material for Cattle Ranchers Workshops 2014

Presentation 2: North American Grasslands Alliance: A Framework for Change

Slide No. / Do / Say / Resources /
1 / Title slide / Beginning in 2011, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation supported a project entitled North American Grasslands: Management Initiatives and Partnerships to Enhance Ecosystem and Community Resilience.
The goal of the project was to address several issues related to the loss of grasslands, through: the provision of comprehensive scientific information; data from pilot studies with land managers and ranchers; an extensive set of beneficial management practices aimed at accelerating sustainable actions to help slow and stop the disproportionate rates of grassland conversion; and the establishment of a continental partnership to advance grassland conservation and sustainable use through collaborative action.
Project outputs were:
•  a Web-based tool, developed to host and disseminate information on beneficial management practices (BMPs);
•  data on the density and status of grassland birds in Northern Mexico;
•  several pilot projects regarding market-based incentives for sustainable rangeland management;
•  a video to promote BMPs; and
•  lastly, the establishment of the North American Grasslands Alliance (NAGA)—an alliance of government agencies, rancher groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other interest groups— and its foundational framework document, North American Grasslands Alliance: A Framework for Change.
This presentation will review NAGA and its Framework for Change document. / www.cec.org/grasslands
North American Grasslands Alliance: A Framework for Change document
2 / The objectives of the presentation are to:
·  provide an overview of the Framework for Change document;
·  provide an overview of the foundational wheel structure—Vision, Principles, Objectives, and Enabling Conditions; and
·  discuss the NAGA Strategic Priorities.
3 / During the course of the project, three trinational meetings with partners and experts were held. Seventy-two experts representing federal and state/provincial governments, rancher groups, nongovernmental organizations, and other interest groups participated in the meetings. They created the North American Grasslands Alliance (NAGA) and developed a multi-faceted collective approach to supporting North American grasslands. The approach is illustrated by a diagram showing how the Framework components work together to support the vision to achieve a desired state for North America’s grasslands.
This Framework document lays a strong foundation for bringing about the deep changes that are required to achieve a continentally integrated approach to planning and management, and lasting sustainability of this uniquely shared terrestrial ecosystem.
4 / Read quotes / [A couple of quotes from the document can be read by the facilitator to highlight the significance and value that some participants felt for the effort.]
5 / The approach is illustrated in this diagram, which shows how the Framework components work together to support the vision of achieving a desired state for North America’s grasslands.
The center of the approach is the Vision.
6 / Vision / “North American grasslands environmentally healthy and productive ecosystems that sustain working landscapes, conserve biodiversity, and support vibrant rural communities.”
The approach recognizes that many national and regional differences exist which will affect the strategies needed to support the Vision. Strategies and actions will need to occur at the trinational, national, regional.
7 / The next components of the Framework are the principles and objectives.
8 / The ision of the North American Grasslands Alliance is based on a set of foundational principles for a trinational conservation strategy. Each principle is associated with several objectives that need to be met in order for that principle to be upheld.
The Framework has seven principles and 18 supporting objectives.
These principles and objectives help partners to assess the alignment of their operations and/or activities with regard to achieving the overall vision. / Flip chart
9 / Principle 1: Ecological goods and services provided by grasslands support the diversity of nature, societal needs, and cultural values.
These ecological goods and services are derived from healthy grassland ecosystems. Some examples are the oxygen we breathe, clean air, abundant fresh water, forage for livestock, and food and habitat for wildlife.
Other goods and services, identified in the first presentation, are carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational value.
These goods and services are essential for life.
10 / Objectives / There are three objectives associated with Principle 1.
1.1 Continental and regional grasslands need to be of sufficient quantity and quality to service societal demand for ecosystem services.
1.2 Water rights and storage, and land use practices must promote improved water use efficiency and equity, and limit aquifer depletion.
1.3 Target conservation and restoration incentives to grasslands priority conservation areas (PCAs) as a minimal basis for conservation planning. Additional core grasslands and areas in need of restoration need to be identified and incorporated into grassland PCAs and Restorable PCAs.
11 / Principle 2: Humans are and will continue to be an integral part of sustainable grassland ecosystems, resulting in increased demand for both natural capital and secondary products.
“Earth’s ecosystems and its peoples are bound together in a grand and complex symbiosis. We depend on ecosystems to sustain us, but the continued health of ecosystems depends, in turn, on our use and care. Ecosystems are the productive engines of the planet, providing us with everything from the water we drink to the food we eat and the fiber we use for clothing, paper, or lumber. Yet, nearly every measure we use to assess the health of ecosystems tells us we are drawing on them more than ever and degrading them, in some cases at an accelerating pace” (White 2000).
“Our knowledge of ecosystems has increased dramatically in recent decades, but it has not kept pace with our ability to alter them. Economic development and human well-being will depend in large part on our ability to manage ecosystems more sustainably. We must learn to evaluate our decisions on land and resource use in terms of how they affect the capacity of ecosystems to sustain life.” (White 2000)
12 / Objectives / There are two objectives associated with Principle 2.
2.1 Rural and conservation communities must be mutually supportive both in principle and with tools.
2.2 Programs and outreach must be tailored to social, economic, cultural and environmental realities to facilitate the uptake of beneficial management practices (BMPs).
13 / Priciple 3: Uncertainty is accounted for across all levels of grassland management strategies, ensuring the viability of grassland systems’ ecological and economic sustainability.
“Farmers and ranchers can control many aspects of the farm or ranch business. For instance, a rancher can dictate the calving season, controlling when and how their cattle are bred. They can determine what types of health care programs their cattle receive and the types of forages used for grazing and hay production. However, one production variable that ranchers have no control over is the weather, which creates substantial production risk.” (Springer 2012.)
“In response to the production risk caused by dry weather and prolonged drought, an insurance program can provide some economic assistance. For example, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides pasture, rangeland and forage insurance for pastures that are grazed or used to produce hay. The programs are based on either a vegetation index or rainfall index.” (Springer 2012.)
Ecological sustainability may be achieved by restoring, enhancing or protecting grassland areas needed to meet certain population and/or habitat goals.
Example: “Grasslands are a critical habitat component for North American Waterfowl. Certain regions of North America have always stood out as being critical. For instance, the grasslands and wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region are clearly a top priority. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan Assessment and other plans call for more conservation resources to be directed to this region of the continent.” (NAWMP 2012.) However, this is also an area that is experiencing vast acreages of land-use conversion.
14 / Objectives / There are three objectives associated with Principle 3.
3.1 Effective incentive programs tied to maintaining and enhancing the ecological services provided by grasslands are required to sustain grass-based agriculture.
3.2 Sufficient minimum conservation land must be secured to meet grassland management targets, including population and habitat goals, to ensure continuity of ecological services under a range of constraining uncertainties, to offset additional capacity requirements during disasters such as drought.
3.3 Policy that provides a set of economic safety nets for grass-based livestock producers consistent with crop insurance and economic price supports.
15 / Principle 4: Natural grasslands are a unique and declining capital asset that provides irreplaceable services to society, landowners and land managers.
Land fragmentation, urban development, oil and gas exploration, and land conversion are having a severe impact on the grasslands of North America.
“In the US Corn Belt, a recent doubling in commodity prices has created incentives for landowners to convert grassland to corn and soybean cropping. From 2006 to 2011 in the Western Corn Belt (WCB): [in] five states[, namely] North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa there was a net decline in grass-dominated land cover totaling nearly 530,000 [hectares]. With respect to agronomic attributes of lands undergoing grassland conversion, corn/soy production is expanding onto marginal lands characterized by high erosion risk and vulnerability to drought. Grassland conversion is also concentrated in close proximity to wetlands, posing a threat to waterfowl breeding in the Prairie Pothole Region.” (Wright and Wimberly 2013)
16 / Objectives / There are two objectives associated with Principle 4.
4.1 Natural capital needs to be valued (monetarily or otherwise) appropriately in all policy, financial and land use decisions.
4.2 The ecological costs of land use change from ranching to agricultural or other uses (i.e., the cost of not stewarding) must be determined and losses accounted for.
17 / Principle 5 / Principle 5: Ranching and conservation require many of the same natural capital conditions for sustainable economic, social and ecological goals.
“Vegetative cover associated with our grasslands protects the soil:
• from water and wind erosion
• from increased soil temperature [and]
• from degradation [and]
• traps sediment [and]
• sustains the vast carbon sink of temperate grassland soils.” (Bailey and McCartney 2010.)
“Our grasslands [store] and [manage] water-flow patterns releasing water slowly all year long, providing a more reliable water source for plants, livestock, and wildlife.” (Bailey and McCartney 2010.)
There are three objectives associated with Principle 5.
5.1 Encourage ranching as an effective means to conserve grassland ecosystem services in terms of benefits to society compared with alternate private land uses.
5.2 Promote the use of tools and activities that sustain hydrologic function, soil processes and plant communities.
5.3 Promote sustainable range management as an effective means of providing necessary disturbance regimes.
18 / Discussion regarding objective 5.1 / The size of ranches across the continent is typically decreasing, as more and more people are buying land, especially rangelands. People want to own land as an investment, for recreation, or simply to retire upon. Having a place “in the country” is almost everyone's dream. Rangeland landscapes provide people with an opportunity to enjoy wildflowers, wildlife, and the experience of managing their own piece of landscape. While these are all great recreational experiences, activities such as rapid land conversion and mismanagement of natural resources are considered major threats to the health and sustainability of rangelands.
The misuse of grasslands or grazing lands through poor management leads to a loss of vegetative cover, loss of soil, inefficient use of rainfall, and lost productivity. While keeping lands in agriculture production is important, local communities must bind together to educate ALL landowners and managers on land stewardship. Conservation Districts and community leaders must value the goods and services that grassland ecosystems provide to urban society and they must support cost-share programs and education programs.
19 / Discussion regarding objective 5.2 / Maintaining or improving the health of grasslands is vital to ensuring the goods and services needed are available. There are numerous monitoring and assessment procedures available for analyzing grassland health.

The assessment protocols in Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health are very useful in evaluating the health of rangelands. This process uses seventeen qualitative indicators to generate assessments for soil and site stability, hydrologic function, and biotic integrity. Rangeland Health evaluations enable identification of potential problems with respect to the associated attributes. These attributes provide qualitative ratings for onsite characteristics that would be difficult to capture with quantitative measures.

The Rangeland Health tool is intended to communicate ecological concepts to the public and landowners, help identify possible land monitoring areas for more-comprehensive programs, and provide “early warnings” of potential problems.

Rangeland Health provides information on types, patterns and severity of problems in rangeland ecosystems relative to an agreed-upon standard for each site. Land managers and policy-makers need this information to support strategic decisions and to identify the ecosystem processes that must be restored to improve the services that the land provides and to maintain or improve profitability. (Pellant et al. 2005.)