A lack of conservation tools and incentives to steward native prairie in Canada has placed a disproportionate cost for environmental stewardship on livestock producers managing natural grasslands. The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance Inc. (RSAI) has investigated conservation tools that would help distribute the cost of maintaining declining ecosystem services from native rangelands more proportionally among those who value and use those services.
Of the conservation tools used around the world, payments for ecosystem services (PES) have been used successfully in similar situations and have the most immediate potential to be used effectively on natural grasslands grazed by livestock in Canada. However, the key to successful PES schemes is a carefully designed program which addresses potential pitfalls. RSAI convened a group of individuals representing a broad cross section of stakeholders to design a PES program for future implementation.