Walmart Foundation, McDonald’s® and Cargill have invested $6 million in an initiative led by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), making lasting improvements to a million acres of Northern Great Plains grasslands.
The $6 million Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network is providing ranchers with technical expertise, training and tools to advance sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The program’s goal is to improve carbon storage and sequestration, improve water infiltration and encourage greater biodiversity in the entire prairie ecosystem, which is home to over 2,000 animal and plant species.
Northern Great Plains: why conservation matters
The Northern Great Plains ecoregion makes up almost 25% of the Great Plains of North America. It is mostly intact, partly thanks to its harsh climate, which has made agricultural expansion relatively difficult until recent decades.
The region supports 1,595 species of plants, providing habitat for 300 species of birds, 95 species of mammals and 28 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and 121 species of fish.
The remaining healthy ecosystems in the region are mostly maintained by hardworking ranching communities. Grasslands have evolved to be grazed, and cattle grazing – when managed well – can deliver many conservation benefits, including healthy grasslands, improved soil and the preservation of habitats.
As part of the RSVP initiative, WWF is working with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide one-on-one and group workshops, ongoing technical expertise, and cost sharing and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement their ranch plans.
“Ranchers are the most important stewards of the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains. As managers of over 70% of the remaining intact grasslands within this region, they hold the keys to its future,” said Martha Kauffman, managing director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains program.
We collectively embrace the importance of large, influential organizations like McDonald’s and Walmart to invest in conservation efforts to help accelerate systems of change.
As the first restaurant company in the world to set an approved science-based target on climate action, McDonald’s is partnering across the supply chain to employ a diverse set of strategies throughout the industry. The Walmart Foundation is also focused on bringing more sustainable, regenerative practices to the beef industry, forming communities to share learnings, advance best practices, foster collaboration and scale collective impact.