Waterbirds on Working Lands Project

Sandhill Cranes in water
Wyman Meintzer, USFWS
Sandhill Cranes

U.S. farmers cultivate more than 400 million acres of cropland annually to provide food, fiber, and energy to meet the needs of a growing domestic and global population. These "working lands" cover a fifth of the country's total area and are an extremely important, and often overlooked, part of the ecological heritage of the United States.

Many of these acres are in close proximity to wetlands and water sources that also provide habitat for waterbird species - often making waterbirds dependent upon farm operations for their success. At the same time, crop and livestock producers face an ongoing challenge to balance productivity and profitability with stewardship of their land and its natural resources.

So what are the best ways for birds and man to peacefully co-exist - and even provide benefits to each other?

To discover opportunities that meet this challenge, the Monsanto Fund and National Audubon Society are partnering in the Waterbirds on Working Lands Project - a large-scale effort to identify and promote sustainable agricultural practices that will maintain the economic viability of farms, while measurably improving the conservation value of these privately owned lands. Learn more about U.S. farming today.

The project has focused on better understanding what we objectively know or do not know about how waterbirds use row-crops and row-crop landscapes, and the impacts of production practices on waterbird distribution and abundance, in order to define waterbird conservation needs on working lands and identify opportunities for partnering with the agricultural community to address those needs.

The primary objectives of the Waterbirds on Working Lands Project have been to:

1. determine the status and trends of North American waterbird species continentally and in regions of highest-intensity row-crop production

2. synthesize current information about the relationship between waterbirds and row crops - how croplands are used by species and how species are impacted by production practices

3. define implementable production practices that can improve habitat for waterbirds in row-crop landscapes, and promote those practices to the grower community

4. identify sites essential for waterbird conservation, with a focus of those in agricultural landscapes, and identify opportunities for working with growers to conserve those sites

5. develop a Waterbird Conservation website to build public awareness of waterbirds and their conservation needs Download the project brochure and overview of management practices

Explore the links below to learn project results:

Status & Trends of North American Waterbirds

Waterbirds & Row Crops: Resource Use & Impacts

Recommended Production Practices

Essential Sites for Waterbird Conservation

Learn more about U.S. Farming today

Project reports are available for download here.

The project brochure is available for download below.