International Crane Foundation

 
Biodiversity Conservation on Agricultural Lands

Biodiversity Conservation on Agricultural Lands

With the conversion of natural grasslands, savannas, and wetlands to croplands, cranes have little choice but to adapt to these new landscapes.

  • In India, Sarus Cranes breed on wetland “islands” in a sea of cropland, feeding in rice paddies.
  • Blue and Grey Crowned Cranes feed on corn, oats, sorghum, and sunflowers on former grasslands of the South African highlands, and roost in farm ponds.
  • The three most abundant species of cranes – Sandhills, Eurasian, and Demoiselle – are the species that have most successfully adapted to farming landscapes.

In many settings, and throughout much of the year, cranes provide a service to farmers by feeding on insect pests or gleaning waste grain without conflict. But at times cranes can damage crops, leading to conflict with the landowners who are providing the habitat that cranes need (click here to learn more about preventing crop damage).

At the International Crane Foundation, we seek ways that having cranes on private lands will represent economic and environmental success, rather than loss.

  • In Wisconsin, we assist farmers to better manage native wetlands that cranes nest in, improve ground water infiltration through restoring prairies, and provide a rural aesthetic that people value.
  • In North Korea and Russia, we are working with farmers to promote organic agriculture and ample waste grain on lands shared with cranes.
  • We engage in efforts to restore small wetlands, control soil erosion through improved farming systems, and reduce pesticide applications that impact water quality. This approach is working in places like northern India where agricultural landscapes protected for Sarus Cranes benefit many additional species.