Rangeland Forage and Carbon
Most rangelands in Alberta are managed for beef production and are grazed by cattle. The production of forage (grass and other plants the cattle graze) depends on local conditions such as soils, climate, and management decisions.
In addition, rangelands also store large amounts of carbon, both above- and below-ground. A well-developed model – the CENTURY model – has been used to assess both forage production and carbon storage across Alberta’s grasslands. CENTURY can simulate a significant range of processes including grazing intensity, fire, and other management factors.
However, the key outputs in the ES assessment are the amount of forage consumed annually by cattle (termed “offtake”) and the total amount of carbon stored in soils and above-ground vegetation and litter. The rangeland model can be used to explore how land use scenarios affect the provision of these two ecosystem services.