In a time when plant-based creations continue to dominate the food sphere and sustainability remains front of minds of most people in our country and beyond, it's easy to have scapegoats when it comes to the average person looking to make our world a better place. Further more, it's hard to disagree that beef has received the brunt of North America's dismay when it comes to animal agriculture and the question of its environmental impact.
According to the new Canadian-made documentary Guardians of the Grasslands, one of the world's most endangered ecosystems is right here in our backyard and cattle grazing is an essential component of keeping said ecosystems functioning properly. The documentary–created by a group of conservationists, ranchers, and filmmakers–urges that the native grasslands of provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are at risk.
"When most people hear about endangered ecosystems, they immediately think of the rainforest or coral reefs," say filmmakers Ben Wilson and Sarah Wray. "Well, this is our backyard, and we are losing it at an alarming rate.”
The documentary explores how livestock and sustainable grazing could truly help save the grasslands of the Canadian Prairies.
“By having cattle on the native grasslands, they are creating life. The bison before them created this entire ecosystem, built all the topsoil and sequestered carbon. Without a large herbivore grazing on these lands, they would become sick,” says Ben Campbell, a southern Alberta rancher featured in the documentary.
Filmed in Alberta at the Waldron Ranch Grazing Co-op, Guardians of the Grasslands is now available to watch on YouTube.