CEC hero image, a  photo of Array


Conserving North American Grasslands

Status: Completed
Operational Plan: 2010

This project builds on past CEC-sponsored work that established the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), and is committed to the conservation of North America’s birds and the associated biodiversity making up their habitat. It also supports the goals outlined in the CEC’s Grasslands, Toward a North American Conservation Strategy (2003), specifically to:

  • Support establishment of a Northern Mexico Regional Grassland Conservation Alliance.
  • Support comprehensive grassland bird monitoring and inventory programs.
  • Contribute to ensuring the long-term protection and management of key grassland tracts across North America.

The objective of this project is to add value to grassland conservation in North America through capacity building and organizational collaboration in northern Mexico -in particular to develop a shared vision for conservation and sustainable use in this region, and a pathway for achieving this vision.

CEC Projects - Conserving North American Grasslands


The central grasslands of North America represent one of the continent’s largest biomes and the only fully trinational terrestrial ecological region in scope. They harbor a rich diversity in species, many of which are endemic. Human-dominated disturbances have significantly transformed this ecosystem across its entire range to the point that it is considered to be among North America’s most endangered ecosystems.

While grasslands have been under pressure from human disturbance for over 150 years (e.g., livestock grazing, agricultural conversion), new threats are now pervasive across the biome (e.g., invasive species, urban sprawl/residential development, energy extraction, and wind-power development).


The origins for this project is the trinational Declaration of Intent for the Conservation of North American Birds and their Habitat in which the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico recognize the importance of collaborative conservation achievements such as those supported by the NABCI. The CEC published Grasslands: Toward a North American Strategy in 2003 as contribution to this effort.

Motivated by a desire to conserve birds in North America, this approach recognizes that habitat protection is a key requirement and that healthy ecosystems will in turn support healthy communities and species. In this effort, bird conservation can be seen as a method of focusing on a key indicator that is more easily measured to determine if conservation actions have been effective.

Key Activities

  • Establish a Regional Alliance of organizations working together to meet shared conservation goals, including the development and peer-review of a regional conservation strategy or master plan. As part of this, convene a trinational meeting to finalize a strategy for working with local ranchers and farmers and other important stakeholders on land use practices that share/incorporate conservation objectives.
  • Support extended and improved monitoring of grasslands migratory birds.
  • Finalize and publish the revised map data of priority conservation areas for North American Grasslands.


  • A Regional Alliance with a steering group representing all relevant stakeholders, institutions and organizations, to develop a draft conservation strategy.
  • Consensus reached with stakeholders on policy approaches that incorporate conservation practices.
  • Protocols of existing bird monitoring programs harmonized; ongoing monitoring efforts supported.
  • Complete the (2009) list and map data, including descriptions and metadata of key priority grasslands conservation areas in North America.