A collaboration working to simultaneously stem the tide of grassland bird decline, improve the resiliency of working landscapes, and positively impact the livelihoods that depend upon those lands.

North America’s native grasslands have suffered the most intense impact by humans of any of the country’s terrestrial ecosystems, resulting in grassland birds experiencing a steeper decline than any other guild of birds. Remaining grassland birds have now adapted to using hayfields and pasturelands as surrogate habitat — an ecological trap under the wrong conditions or a unique opportunity for conservation under the right conditions.

Research has demonstrated that implementing a specific suite of best management practices on agricultural land can actually benefit grassland birds, as well as restore ecosystem functionality to those working landscapes. With the majority of remaining grasslands in Virginia currently held in private hands and under agricultural use, both farmers and their working landscapes have become instrumental in the future of grassland bird conservation.

In response, The Piedmont Environmental Council and the Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes launched the Piedmont Grassland Bird Initiative (PGBI) to address grassland bird declines on working lands in the Virginia Piedmont. American Farmland Trust and Quail Forever have joined as lead collaborators, bringing with them their respective expertise in conservation messaging and technical assistance on working landscapes. Together, these partners work with producers to restore grassland bird populations on working landscapes in Virginia’s Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley. 

PGBI Conservation Goals