ALUS History

ALUS helps farmers and ranchers build nature-based solutions on their land to sustain agriculture and biodiversity for the benefit of communities and future generations.  

ALUS provides direct financial and technical support to a network of farmers and ranchers who deliver ecosystem services in their communities, such as cleaner air, cleaner water, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood mitigation, pollinator support and wildlife habitat.


The ALUS concept arose out of lengthy discussions with the agricultural community to try and address shortcomings in traditional approaches to conservation. Originally conceived and developed by Rob Olsen (Delta Waterfowl Foundation), Jonathan Scarth (Delta Waterfowl Foundation) and Ian Wishart (Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba), the Delta Waterfowl Foundation created and began delivering the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program in 2000.


The original ALUS concept paper was followed by a 2004 proposal, “ALUS: The Farmer’s Conservation Plan,” co-written by Dr. Robert Bailey (Delta Waterfowl Foundation) and Dave Reid (Norfolk Land Stewardship Council, who would later serve as ALUS Canada’s Eastern Hub Manager and Director of Research). This document laid out the original principles of the program and is still fondly referred to as the “ALUS Bible.”


Canada’s first-ever ALUS pilot project took place from 2006 to 2009 in the Rural Municipality of Blanshard, Manitoba, located within the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District. Funded by the Provincial Government and The Weston Family Foundation, the pilot was led by Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba’s largest farm organization, and strongly supported the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.


In September 2007, ALUS launched in Ontario—specifically, in Norfolk County, the heart of tobacco farm country. Today, ALUS Norfolk remains the oldest continuously running ALUS program in Canada.


As word spread about ALUS, provincial officials from Prince Edward Island met with ALUS Norfolk and, in 2008, implemented the program province-wide. Prince Edward Island is the first and only jurisdiction in Canada with a provincially-supported ALUS program, co-managed by the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the P.E.I. Department of Communities, Land and Environment.


Having developed a tried, tested and true methodology, based on sound scientific principles and strong community involvement through the PAC model refined in ALUS Norfolk, the ALUS program was ready to be exported to new communities across Canada. Under the auspices of Delta Waterfowl, ALUS launched in Alberta in 2010, when the County of Vermilion River, east of Edmonton, initiated a pilot project that enrolled more than 1,000 acres in its first year. ALUS Vermilion River is still going strong.


ALUS started to expand in Alberta and Ontario: In 2012, Parkland County became the second Albertan community to start an ALUS program(ALUS Parkland). In Ontario, ALUS planted its roots in Elgin County, beginning with a pilot project in Bayham Township that would later become ALUS Elgin. The ALUS program was also introduced to Grey and Bruce Counties as a pilot project in 2012 (ALUS Grey-Bruce), and launched in the Ottawa region, as Ontario East ALUS Inc. (ALUS Ontario East).


ALUS launched in Red Deer County, Alberta, in 2013. ALUS Red Deer County complements existing programs that the County had been delivering with local producers since 2001—with ALUS, farmers and ranchers would now get paid to establish and maintain projects that produce ecosystem services on their land.


ALUS relaunched in Manitoba in 2014, as a partnership with the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District. ALUS Little Saskatchewan River includes the original Blanshard pilot project, plus a much-expanded area around it—the Conservation District covers a territory of about one million acres.


ALUS announced its Saskatchewan launch in 2011, but the project was greatly expanded in 2015, with the formation of the ALUS WUQWATR (Wascana and Upper Qu’Appelle Watershed) program, as well as the ALUS Saskatchewan Assiniboine Project (ASAP), a partnership between ALUS, the Assiniboine River Watershed Association and the Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association (SaskFSA).

In Alberta, Mountain View County became the fourth Albertan community to embrace ALUS (ALUS Mountain View), while the County of Wetaskiwin and Leduc County partnered together to run a joint program (ALUS Wetaskiwin-Leduc). A partnership between ALUS and Lac Ste. Anne County (ALUS Lac Ste. Anne) began in 2015 as a three-year pilot project focused on wetland restoration.

In Ontario, the ALUS Lambton program started up in 2015, in a partnership with Ontario NativeScape, a division of the Rural Lambton Stewardship Network


In 2016, ALUS left the Delta nest, relaunching as ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, a registered charitable organization. The Weston Family Foundation’s $5 million donation, which was intended to help support ALUS Canada’s expansion across the country, was announced in November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

And expand it did: ALUS Canada launched three new ALUS programs in Alberta in 2016, partnerships with Flagstaff County (ALUS Flagstaff), Brazeau County (ALUS Brazeau) and the County of Northern Sunrise: (ALUS Northern Sunrise) is Canada’s most northerly ALUS community, situated in the beautiful Peace Region of northwestern Alberta.

In Ontario, the ALUS Bayham program expanded in 2016, becoming ALUS Elgin. And, in partnership with the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie, ALUS Canada established the first-ever ALUS program in Québec in 2016, ALUS Montérégie.

Expanding in another way, ALUS Canada also did the soft launch of a newcorporate sponsorship program called  New Acre™ Project, in 2016.

ALUS Canada won two major honours in 2016. The Shared Footprint Award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation, sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, is a testament to the dedication of Alberta’s ALUS communities in establishing ALUS as the preferred mechanism for delivering stewardship on the agricultural landscape. And on a national level, CEO Bryan Gilvesy and three of ALUS’ Directors were named to Canada’s “Clean16” at the Clean50 Awards, in recognition of their innovative approach to creating new markets for grassroots conservation.


In 2017, ALUS announced a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), intended to help establish new ALUS communities in Ontario and to help transform three existing pilot communities—ALUS Elgin, Grey Bruce and Ontario East—into permanent ALUS programs. As a result, the ALUS program came to the Peterborough region in 2017, as a partnership between ALUS Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (ALUS Peterborough), while the ALUS Middlesex and ALUS Chatham-Kent programs were also established in 2017.

That same year, ALUS and Alberta philanthropist David Bissett, a long-time ALUS supporter, announced “The Bissett Action Fund,” which supports environmental projects on farms and ranches in southern Alberta, helping farmers and ranchers maintain close to 200 ALUS projects between the County of Vermilion River to the east and Lac Ste. Anne County and Parkland County to the west.

Also in Alberta, ALUS Canada partnered with Lacombe County to establish the 22nd ALUS community in Canada (ALUS Lacombe).


ALUS and the Government of Prince Edward Island signed a landmark agreement to help conserve threatened grassland bird species in that province.

ALUS co-organized the country’s first-ever Natural Infrastructure Forum in November 2018.

ALUS officially launched three new communities in Ontario (ALUS Middlesex, ALUS Peterborough and ALUS Chatham-Kent), and established two new ALUS communities in Alberta (ALUS Wheatland and ALUS Rocky View)


ALUS partnered with Manitoba government through the GROW program. It also received numerous new fundings from governments: Alberta Real Estate Foundation; Federal funding from Environment & Climate Change Canada through the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program; Funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR). Finally, Intact Foundation also announced its support to ALUS.

TD was the official sponsor of New Acre™ Project launch.

ALUS launched two new communities, ALUS Seine Rat Roseau in Manitoba and ALUS Vulcan in Alberta.


2020 was a year like no other, to be remembered for various reason. At ALUS, we will remember it as the year we received a $300,000 donation from an anonymous donor! We also received new funding from Canadian Agriculture Partner.

ALUS Little Saskatchewan River became ALUS Assiboine West while ALUS Seine Rat River became ALUS Seine Rat Rouseau.

ALUS hosted its first ever National PAC Conference. The event was held virtually and attended by more than 50 people including PAC members and program staff from across the country. Speakers included ALUS staff and research partners from the University of Guelph.

ALUS also created a new PAC Liaison position, to support all ALUS Partnership Advisory Committees (PACs) across the country.


As ALUS and New Acre Project continue to garner new funding, the ALUS program will continue to expand into new territories, bringing the ALUS program to more and more communities.

TD was the official sponsor of New Acre™ Project launch.

ALUS launched two new communities, ALUS Seine Rat Roseau in Manitoba and ALUS Vulcan in Alberta.