On the eve of the 2016 Saskatchewan election, it is disappointing to see that the environment and sustainable development have not been a serious topic of debate. We have heard almost nothing what the major political parties will do to safeguard our disappearing native prairie landscapes.
The prairie ecosystem is one of the most altered and threatened in North America; only 20% of Saskatchewan’s native prairie remain, and in some areas, such as in the Regina Plains, there are less than 1% native prairie left. Even protected areas do not have a secure future, as a series of political measures have recently undercut their status.
Why should we be concerned how our elected leaders will manage natural resources that belong to the people of Saskatchewan? When we look at the most imperilled ecosystem in Canada, there many reasons why Saskatchewan grasslands matter (as compiled by writer and naturalist Trevor Herriot):
- Because they are rare and threatened by cultivation and other kinds of development.
- Because they support endangered species.
- Because they are diverse.
- Because they protect soil and water
- Because they sequester carbon.
- Because they support ranching economy and culture.
- Because they contain the cultural heritage of the prairie.
- Because people need native prairie places they can visit.
- Because all natural land has value that goes beyond economics.
- Because we have a responsibility to the future.
When you go to the polls tomorrow to elect the provincial government for the next four years, vote for a MLA representative that cares about, and is interested is supporting our grassland heritage.