Date of this Version
Conservation Science and Practice. 2022;4:e626. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.626
Grasslands are the most threatened and least protected biome. Yet, no study has been conducted to identify the last remaining continuous grasslands on Earth. Here, we used World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifications to measure the degree of intactness remaining for the world's grassland ecoregions. This analysis revealed three findings of critical conservation importance. First, only a few large, intact grasslands remain. Second, every continent with a grassland ecoregion considered in this study contains at least one relatively intact grassland ecoregion. Third, the largest remaining continuous grasslands identified in this analysis have persisted despite last centuries anthropogenic pressures and have the best chance to withstand 21st century pressures of global change. We discuss how these regions are of critical conservation importance to global grassland conservation efforts under anthropogenically driven global change. They provide essential ecosystem services, play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change, serve as critical repositories for grassland biodiversity, are foundational for continental migration pathways, hold unique cultural heritage, and people's livelihoods depend upon their persistence.