Sustainability Pathways

Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard (GRASS)

Grassland type Semi-natural
Name of practice Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard (GRASS)
Name of main actor The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Ovis XXI
Type of actor(s) Farmers, Natural resources conservation groups, NGOs, Consumers, Private sector
Location Argentina
Agro-ecological region Temperate
Sustainability dimension involved Governance, Environmental, Economic, Social
Sustainability sub-themes Product Quality and Information, Decent Livelihood, Fair Trading Practices
Year of implementation 2011
Description of best practice The Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard (GRASS) is a collaborative project involving The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Ovis XXI, rangeland scientists and grazing consultants, and a network of ranchers in the Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. Patagonia’s 400 million acres of temperate grasslands support a unique biological and cultural heritage, and provide many important ecosystems services including clean air and water, forage for livestock, carbon sequestration, and habitat for wildlife. Most land is privately owned and sheep ranching for wool and meat is the most prevalent land-use. Poorly managed ranching is a strong driver of desertification. As such, it comprises both a threat and an opportunity to enhance grassland conservation in Patagonia. GRASS aims to support sustainable production and livelihoods, while maintaining and restoring the health of grasslands. Based on rigorous conservation science, planning and monitoring, GRASS provides market incentives to encourage widespread adoption of a sustainable production model for grassland landscapes. Through certification and labeling, GRASS engages consumers by providing a guarantee that products are conservation friendly. The standards work by providing accreditation to farmers that have adopted good practices in grassland management and stewardship. Participating farms must have an approved management plan including conservation measures, rangeland and grazing management, protection of unique and high-valued areas, and grassland restoration activities. Rangeland conditions are measured by a suite of indicators including site stability, water and nutrient cycle health, and community dynamics. Each farm conducts ongoing monitoring and annual assessments to track progress towards management goals. The standards incorporate experiences and knowledge from a range of different sources including ideas such as Holistic Management. GRASS will be reviewed every two years.
Outcomes and impacts GRASS establishes a quality assurance system for sustainable grasslands management in Patagonia by defining guidelines and procedures including validation and auditing processes. GRASS will provide positive outcomes for people, wildlife and grasslands including: • Protection and restoration of grasslands and their unique and fragile environments. • Maintaining viable populations of key native wildlife species including puma, red fox, rhea, and guanaco. • Providing stable markets for high-quality grassland products, reflecting fair costs of production that will sustain the economic viability of accredited farms. The goal is to have 4.0 million hectares under certified sustainable grazing management by June 2015. Although GRASS has been developed for the Patagonia region, elements of the protocol are also being evaluated and applied in the USA and Mongolia. For more information see: http://magazine.nature.org/features/shear-salvation.xml
Contacts Stephan Halloy, The Nature Conservancy: shalloy@TNC.ORG