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This briefing, produced by Plantlife, WWF-International, and Equilibrium Research, outlines the vital role that grasslands and savannahs, and their carbon stores, can play in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.

There are opportunities for governments to plan joined-up actions as Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) revise two key documents:

  • National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) by December 2024
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2025.

What are NDCs and NBSAPs?

NDCs are a mechanism for Parties to the UNFCCC to set out their post-2020 national actions and policies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. NBSAPs are a mechanism for Parties to the UNCBD to set out how they will deliver their commitments at a national level.

Healthy grasslands and savannahs are critically important for:

Carbon storage and climate resilience

  • Provide carbon stores to mitigate climate change;
  • Reduce soil erosion, dust storms and desertification, and protect against flooding, contributing to climate change adaptation;
  • Aid water security.

Ecosystem services:

  • Support food production;
  • Maintain a wide range of recreational, cultural and aesthetic benefit;
  • Support a quarter of the world’s people with a huge cultural diversity.

A strategic approach is needed through national policy and legislation to protect, sustainably manage, and restore grasslands and savannahs in order to unlock their benefits.

Key recommendations for inclusion of natural and semi-natural grasslands and savannahs:

  1. Establish systematic mapping and monitoring of extent, trends in decline, and ecological condition;
  2. Assess key drivers of loss, decline, and degradation, linked to specific targets, objectives – and indicators of progress against each threat;
  3. Support indigenous people, local communities, farmers and herders to adopt sustainable livestock grazing and management practices as part of sustainable agri-food system; facilitating greater carbon storage, enhancing biodiversity, and sustaining food production and livelihoods;
  4. Establish protection principles from inappropriate afforestation;
  5. Develop a programme of protection, sustainable management, and restoration.

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