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The Benefits of Cattle for Carbon Storage and Biodiversity in the Canadian Prairie

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Big Muddy rancher

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The Benefits of Cattle for Carbon Storage and Biodiversity in the Canadian Prairie

by Cameron N. Carlyle (University of Alberta)
The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, March 2019.

Cattle and beef production have gained a negative opinion by some segments of the general public. However, past research done within the Canadian Prairie and in other regions have demonstrated that with appropriate management, cattle on native grasslands can increase some of the EG&S that we value. The cattle industry through the maintenance of large areas of native grasslands, rather than crop production, support wildlife habitat and avoid the loss of carbon that occurs with cultivation. Many studies highlight that moderate levels of grazing maintain biodiversity and soil carbon at levels above what these systems provide when grazing is removed, and especially above the level provided by other land uses, such as cultivation. Currently though, with few exceptions, the primary revenue from grasslands is by beef production. Conservation of these lands through policy that provides incentives to landowners to continue grazing these lands at moderate rates, rather than alternate land-uses, is key to the long term maintenance of EG&S and human well-being.
 

Traveler

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If they think their plant based diet causes carbon emissions they may become suicidal. There is an upside.
 

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