This week’s blog puts a spotlight on the most valuable and also most endangered habitat in the world, why we’re passionate about it, and what we’re doing to revive it.
Due to the encroachment of the plow, most are probably thinking prairie at this point, but most would be wrong! North American Savanna is the habitat type in the spotlight today with only about 2% remaining. Savanna is basically prairie with trees. The kind everyone loves to see. Problem is, they’re almost gone. Why? Because their 2 most prominent maintainers have left the party… Bison & Fire.
What is Savanna habitat? Imagine if Central Park was left unkept for a couple of years. It’s one of the most ideal, beneficial habitats on the planet.
Why is Savanna so critical?
Savanna habitat is the ideal blend of partial shade, forage, and mast crops like nuts and fruits. Partial shade helps reduce moisture evaporation from the soil and keeps the soil cooler, propagating delicious and highly nutritious, erosion-fighting, moisture-retaining forages. Partial shade also provides valuable lounges during the midday heat to reduce stress on critters. Flocks of birds that thrive off bison herds also benefit from the savanna and its ideal nesting habitat as well as feasting on the abundant insect & pollinator populations that are supported by the diverse selection of food. The trees also provide a bumper crop of nuts that species from mice to birds to squirrels to deer to elk to bears to bison cherish in the fall.
Over the last 100 years, 3 things have played a major role in the disappearing of this most critical habitat.
First - We removed the massive herds of bison that cultivated and prospered the savannas.
Massive herds of bison would rove through an area every 1-5 years, wreaking havoc on every tree in sight. Some trees survived, most didn’t. This activity created a mosaic of sparse mature trees and a few lucky, young, up-n-comers. It looked like an abandoned park. It’s the perfect blend of shade, forage, scratching posts, shelter, and nesting habitat.