Grazing disposition holders have legislatively mandated legal requirements they must adhere to, many of which represent costs that otherwise would be borne by the province.
The Alberta Crown land grazing system is built on a stewardship model, which is deliberate to avoid the tragedy of the commons that Canada witnessed in the USA.
The report assigns economic value to the costs borne by disposition holders through their stewardship role on Crown lands.
Leaseholders provide upwards of $70 million in value to the province of Alberta for their role overseeing Crown land under grazing disposition. As grazing cattle are vital to maintain ecosystem function and wildlife habitat values, it is difficult to see a scenario where this value could be provided in any other way that would be more cost effective.
Overseeing Crown land for the purpose of grazing cattle requires leaseholders to manage multiple uses (including recreation and industrial access), maintain fences, improve rangeland, develop watering systems and absorb various other cost factors to continue using the land in the manner that adheres to legislation and also stewards the land.
Modern rangeland management practices seek to imitate historical disturbance patterns of the natural system by using adaptively managed livestock grazing to maintain native rangeland ecosystem health.
Livestock grazing on Crown lands represents an economically viable land use compatible with maintaining native ecosystems, resulting in conservation of critical species at risk (and other wildlife) habitat rather than development and changes in land use, such as conversion to annual cropping (these are not compatible to habitat preservation.)
Carefully managed cattle grazing and traditional ranching practices on long-term grazing leases contribute to the ecological health of large tracts of the continent’s finest remaining native grasslands.
Good stewardship and proper grazing management has helped to retain much of the existing healthy native and intact rangelands.
Grazing dispositions are a time-tested mechanism to conserve rangeland landscapes and their ecological goods and services.
The report methodology is based on a literature review, stakeholder consultations and value estimates using the best scientific information available to provide an objective opinion and results that are sound and replicable.
See www.albertagrazinglease.ca for more information.