Who we are and what do we do

WCPA Protected Areas Grasslands Group

Indigenous temperate grasslands are one of the world’s great ecosystems – or so they used to be. Indigenous temperate grasslands are now considered the most altered biome on the planet. The temperate grasslands biome occupies 9 million sq.km or ~ 8% of the earth’s terrestrial surface. But of this 8%, only 3.4% are currently protected within the global system of protected areas. 3.4% is even less than half of he next poorly represented ecosystem, Mediterranean forests and woodlands. After cradling the needs of humans for centuries, indigenous temperate grasslands are now the earth’s most endangered ecosystem.

We have developed a global strategy and regional plans to address this concern - each of which are available on our website. We continue our efforts to improve the conservation and protection of this vital ecosystem led by our project team:

Marcos Cerra, IUCN South America

Naomi Doak, Australia

Ann Edwards, WCS Mongolia

Bill Henwood, WCPA Canada

Pablo Manzano, WISP Kenya

Dr. Alan Mark, New Zealand

Andrea Michelson, Argentina

Bob Peart, WCPA Canada

Scott Perkin, IUCN Thailand

Alvaro Soutullo, Uruguay

Bruce K. Downie, WCPA Canada


The Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative

The Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative (TGCI) is an undertaking of the Grasslands Specialist Group. The TGCI is directed at fostering a new regime of communications and cooperation at the global level to enable the increased conservation and protection of indigenous temperate grasslands.

The TGCI will also target a commitment to the conservation of greater grassland ecosystems beyond protected area boundaries, aimed at stemming the declines in habitat loss, conserving biodiversity, restoring lost or damaged ecosystems, reintroducing extirpated species and promoting the ecologically sustainable use of grasslands by improving grassland management practices

The TGCI is also very conscious of the many benefits to be derived from the improved conservation and protection of temperate grasslands to the lives and cultures of mobile indigenous peoples, and to the securement of more reliable food supplies and sources of safe drinking water for rural communities throughout the biome. In this way, the TGCI can assist in achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, as well as the objectives of several international conventions and IUCN commissions.

The TGCI was launched at a workshop held in Hohhot, China on June 2008. The 35 grasslands experts from 14 countries participating in the workshop, confirmed and further enhanced the mission of the Specialist Group: "To reverse the trend of biodiversity loss and degradation of the temperate grasslands biome by promoting both the designation and special management of representative protected areas, and the widespread use of sustainable management practices beyond protected area boundaries, with the goal of at least doubling the current level of protection by 2014."

We believe that the conservation and protection of the world's indigenous temperate grasslands requires the dual focus of site-specific protection of representative indigenous temperate grasslands and the fostering of sustainable land use practices throughout the biome. To achieve this mandate, the TGCI has identified five program priorities:

  1. To conduct a global inventory and gap analysis of temperate grassland protected areas. 
  2. To develop a global strategy and four regional action plans to double the level of protection for temperate grasslands by 2014, by encouraging transboundary initiatives whenever possible.
  3. To develop guidelines for sustainable land use practices that promote the maintenance of ecological and biodiversity values as well as socio-economic values of indigenous grasslands.
  4. To develop mechanisms for improved international communications and collaboration, and general public awareness.
  5. To support research that improves the understanding of the total economic value of intact indigenous temperate grasslands to society and human health.

The report Life in a Working Landscape: Towards a Conservation Strategy for the World’s Temperate Grasslands is a record of the discussions and outcomes of the Hohhot workshop. This workshop culminated in the adoption of a consensus statement known as the Hohhot Declaration, which stands as a call to action to protect the world's indigenous temperate grasslands.

Towards a Conservation Strategy for the World's Temperate Grasslands outlines our global strategy and four regional action plans. Building on this strategy regional action plans have been developed for the Northern Great Plains of North America, the various grassland biomes of South America, the Kazakh Steppe and the transboundary Daurian Steppe and Amur River Basin of Eastern Mongolia, Russia and China. Additional background documents have also been written to support this strategic approach.

All the above-mentioned reports and documents are available on this website.


  • World Commission on Protected Areas Logo
  • Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative

Specialist Group Leader

Kirk A. Olson
Email: kirkaolson@hotmail.com



Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative Project Team

Bruce K. Downie, WCPA Canada
Project Coordinator

Bob Peart, WCPA Canada
Dr. Alan Knapp
, United States
Dr. Alan Mark, New Zealand
Andrea Michelson, Argentina
Dr. Scott Perkin, IUCN Asia
Naomi Doak, TRAFFIC Australia



More information