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Can ranching be sustainable?

In today’s world sustainability and the environment are a major concern. People are becoming more and more environmentally aware – is what I’m doing/buying/eating harming the environment? In this case, we are looking at whether ranching can be sustainable.

According to the Oxford dictionary, sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Cattle ranching, when managed well, results in increased ecosystem services and conservation benefits. The worldwildlife reports that grazing can help to maintain the health of grasslands, improve soil quality and preserve wildlife habitat. 

There are many environmental programs and initiatives which work with ranchers in order to help them manage and improve the sustainability of their ranch. In fact, the beef magazine lists ‘finding a partner’ as one of the first steps to take in order to become a sustainable rancher. One such program in Columbia brings together trees, forage plants and livestock to help farmers adapt to the challenges of a changing climate. This method of ranching is known as silvopastoral farming and the benefits include healthier livestock, more nutrient rich soils and fewer greenhouse gases. 

Understanding key issues in your region is another key step mentioned by the beef magazine. For example, in California drought can be a concern and in other areas there could be issues with a species of grassland bird, water quality and invasive species. Ranching is about managing complex biological systems and so every small change made must be carefully considered. 

Sustainability is about applying a management approach that considers the environmental, social and economic impact of a decision, and then acting in a way that optimizes positive results across all three. In the words of agronomy engineer Jerusa Cariaga from the Sustainable Development Institute “Cattle aren’t the villains. It’s the way they are raised that can be harmful or not”. 

If you have any questions or queries about ranch real estate in Northern California or any of our ranch property listings, do not hesitate to contact us here or by phone, on 530-949-4241.

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