Introduction: Seas of Grass (03:24)
This video examines the link between environmental pressures and grasslands around the world. Grasslands comprise 30% of Earth's land mass and are home to nearly one billion people. (Credits)
Inner Mongolia (05:18)
The spiritual and cultural legacies of Mongol warriors and Silk Road traders continues; thousands of people gather during festivals. During the summer, nomadic villagers live in mobile tents on the grasslands.
Environmental Pressures (03:30)
Approximately 15 million people live in Shanghai. China is now a country of consumers and the demand for meat has created a crisis in the grasslands. Seasonal winds create sandstorms that reach Beijing.
Cultural Changes (04:05)
A recent drought forces a family to sell half of their sheep. Shuju, along with many other rural residents, has decided to look for work in Hailar. Her family holds a farewell dinner; they fear the loss of traditions.
Lake Victoria, Africa (03:33)
The lakeshore is home to over 30 million people and suffers severe ecological problems. A team of scientists studies the eroded gullies that surround the grasslands; devastation covers over one third of the Nyando River basin.
Lake Baringo, Africa (06:38)
The lake is shrinking; agricultural demands for water and overgrazing has led to soil erosion and silting. Livestock strips the grasslands. The Rehabilitation of Arid Environments Trust works to reclaim local grasslands.
High Veld, South Africa (04:04)
A traditional Zulu healer gathers medicinal plants from the valley; the veld may be the Earth's oldest grasslands ecosystem. Wetlands provide sanctuary for hundreds of bird species and the highlands provide grazing pastures for domestic animals and wildlife.
Timber Industry (02:05)
Non-native tree plantations cover hundreds of acres of grasslands and consume 40% of the rainwater. The industry provides jobs for those in desperate need.
Argentina and Patagonia (05:25)
The country's banking system collapses and rioters protest; ranching is big business. Matt Damon discusses Patagonian history. Sheep farmers round-up their livestock; environmental degradation is a serious problem.
Pampas of Argentina (05:18)
Much of the area's history revolves around the gaucho. Cattle ranchers inject their herds with hormones. Farmers control 30% of the grasslands; the pampas is vulnerable to agricultural chemicals and flooding during the rainy season.
American Great Plains (09:46)
Residents of Cimarron, New Mexico celebrate cowboys. Damon discusses early settlers and the destruction of grasslands; less than 2% of families now farm the land. The Gray Ranch uses sustainable practices to help preserve the remaining ecosystem.
Credits: Seas of Grass (00:56)
Credits: Seas of Grass
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