Starting in fall 2013, all merino baselayer styles and all merino socks by Patagonia Inc. will be made with wool sustainably sourced from the grasslands of Patagonia. This high-quality merino is fully traceable back to ranches using the Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard (GRASS), which includes conservation goals and land management protocols agreed upon by The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI.
“Ranching on grasslands has shaped the economic and cultural development of Patagonia. And by partnering with the leading outdoor clothingcompany and working directly with ranchers, we will be able to continue the region’s ranching heritage in a way that sustains the local economy and the grasslands,” said Carlos Fernandez, Patagonian Grasslands Conservation Project Manager with The Nature Conservancy.
The new protocol introduced by the Conservancy and Ovis XXI mimics natural grazing patterns for wildlife. Rather than graze sheep in one place continually, the sheep will be moved in and out of different pastures depending on the conditions of the grasses, encouraging more diversity of native grass species and higher ground coverage. When flock sizes, lands, and streams are properly managed, ranchers, sheep, native plants and animals can thrive together.
"This project is a testimony to what collaboration can achieve. A group of innovative farmers working closely with rangeland managers to maintain the health of their grasslands, with some innovative ones trying to achieve regeneration and improve biodiversity by Holistic Planned Grazing,” said Ovis XXI's Pablo Borrelli. “The support of the Conservancy scientists, retail brands like Patagonia Inc. and of many players in the supply chain is changing the future of Patagonia, stopping a long decline of land, economy and people for a more positive situation."
The hope of this partnership is to change the future of the Patagonian region’s grassland as well as implement a global sustainable grazing protocol to secure the economic viability of sheep ranching without sacrificing the natural value of lands that sustain them.