Foothills Restoration Forum
In the face of growing concern about the challenges in maintaining and restoring rough fescue grasslands, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) recognized the need for a collaborative approach to address the needs of the community, and joined with SASCI to launch the Foothills Restoration Forum in 2006.
The Foothills Restoration Forum is a collaborative research team comprised of experienced professionals from provincial agencies, the ranching community, conservation organizations, industry, and plant ecology and reclamation disciplines with a simple goal: to accomplish the restoration of the native grassland ecosystems of southwestern Alberta.
Native grasslands play a critical role in sustainable land use. Healthy grasslands perform key ecological functions such as capturing and retaining water, sequestering carbon, producing sustainable protein rich forage and supporting a wealth of plant and animal biodiversity. All elements of a functioning, healthy rangeland ecosystem are dependent on healthy native grasslands. However, current estimates suggest that only between 16 and 35 percent of the total area that supported these grasslands before settlement remain intact today. The Forum exists to foster research and fill critical gaps in our knowledge base to preserve our valuable grasslands for future generations.
The Forum is facilitated by SASCI and coordinated by Gramineae Services Ltd (local consulting reclamation specialists). Its activities are overseen by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, and primarily undertaken by a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) with representatives from provincial and municipal government, industry, the agriculture and ranching community, landowners, conservation associations, and reclamation consultants. In particular, the TAC is responsible for identifying priority issues and research needs, soliciting and reviewing research proposals, reviewing research results, and recommending improvements to reclamation practices.
The Forum functions through regular meetings and ongoing work of the TAC, annual information sharing and discourse Summits open to the broad Forum membership, liaison with the research community, and communication and outreach activities. The first annual Summit of the Forum, held in November 2007, was attended by over 100 people representing diverse interests in the ecological health of the southern Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. Participants from government, industry, the agriculture and ranching community, conservation organizations, and consulting specialists came together to share knowledge and local experience. This level of engagement has been sustained in subsequent annual Summits.
The Forum continues to plan and carry out activities, including hosting an annual Fall Forum, and engaging with academic and research institutions to advance knowledge and understanding of grasslands ecosystems.
For more information about the Foothills Restoration Forum, visit the Forum website: