“Grassland being broken in substantial acreages is just not an issue.”
—Hon. Lyle Stewart, Minister of Saskatchewan Agriculture, Western Producer, 26 September 2013
According to Stats Canada (Table 004-0203 - Census of Agriculture, land use, every 5 years), Saskatchewan lost 2,068,246 acres of “natural land for pasture” in the province between 1991 and 2016.
This means that more than 2 million acres of native grassland, aspen parkland and other forms of natural pasture land in the province were plowed under in the last 25 years.
How much is 2 million acres? It is nearly ten times the size of Grasslands National Park, one of our last remaining protected grassland areas of any size in the province.
That 2 million acres amounts to one-sixth of the prairie area in Canada being destroyed in a single generation.
At that rate Saskatchewan is losing 80,000 acres on average every year, or more than 200 acres a day, or 9 acres every hour.
That is a 15.5% decrease over 25 years. How does that compare to rainforest loss? Well, Brazil lost 9.5% of its rainforest over the same period. (To be perfectly clear--in absolute acres lost per year the rainforest loss is much higher than our loss of native prairie, but the yearly percentage loss of prairie in SK is greater than the yearly percentage loss of rainforest in Brazil.)
Oh, almost forgot: It is Native Prairie Appreciation Week next week, so get out there and appreciate what we have left of our native prairie.
Photo: freshly broken prairie in Southwest Saskatchewan, where I often hear that no-one breaks native grassland anymore,” says Trevor Herriott. Source: Trevor Herriott’s Grass Notes.