ALUS projects are helping the Francis family to produce cleaner water, a valuable ecosystem service for the people of Prince Edward Island.
The province of Prince Edward Island has existing environmental regulations in place, such as 15 m buffer zones around watercourses and wetlands, and restrictions on growing row crops on land with a slope greater than nine per cent. However, it was recognized early on in PEI that the regulatory approach achieves only a minimum standard of environmental conservation outcomes.
Enter the PEI ALUS program. Alternative Land Use Services is a unique conservation program for projects that go above and beyond legislative measures.
“ALUS represents a new conversation with Island farmers and landowners,” says Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. “By allowing for a collaborative, ongoing dialogue, ALUS enables P.E.I. to achieve better environmental outcomes on private agricultural lands.”
ALUS gives farmers/landowners an annual payment for conservation projects on private agricultural lands. The annual payment is usually equal to local land-rental rates on a per-acre basis. This community-developed, farmer-delivered program allows Island farmers/landowners to set aside land for environmental purposes and develop additional conservation projects on their farms, all for nature’s benefit.
Prince Edward Island is the first and only jurisdiction in Canada with a provincially-supported ALUS program. Originally implemented in 2008, P.E.I. ALUS is co-managed by the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the P.E.I. Department of Communities, Land and Environment.
The PEI ALUS program has experienced an excellent uptake by Island farmers/ landowners, with 415 clients currently enrolled in the program.
The goals of the PEI ALUS program are:
- Reduce soil erosion and siltation of watercourses and wetlands;
- Improve water quality;
- Improve and increase wildlife habitat;
- Reduce the impacts of climate change.
ALUS continues to build a strong base of support within P.E.I.’s agricultural and conservation communities. There are now approximately 10,000 acres enrolled in the ALUS program and, in 2015-2016, annual payments to participating farmers/landowners amounted to $735,000. Audits of ALUS projects reveal a very high rate of compliance: in 2015, 458 projects were audited, revealing an impressive compliance rate of 97 per cent.
In 2016-2017, the PEI ALUS program will be undergoing a review that will examine payment rates paid to farmers/landowners. Currently, payment rates are based on an analysis dating back to 2006. With increasing land values and input costs, a review of payment rates is warranted. In addition, the ALUS Costing Review will also consider some new incentives. This work is being conducted through a partnership with the University of Prince Edward Island and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017.
Nationally, ALUS continues to gain traction, with projects being delivered in parts of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Interest has also been expressed from the other maritime provinces. These other ALUS programs throughout Canada are funded through ALUS Canada and managed through local Partnership Advisory Committees that are made up of community members and farmers. While the Government of Prince Edward Island manages the P.E.I. ALUS Program, it also has an external advisory committee that provides advice and direction.
ALUS continues to deliver a refreshing approach to conservation on private agricultural lands. The demand for ALUS projects in all Canadian provinces is expected to grow as the public’s appetite for environmental services continues to grow.
“Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest,” Aldo Leopold, North America’s “father of wildlife conservation,” once said. Clearly, Leopold was on to something some eight decades ago. ALUS also believes that private landowners, for the most part farmers, are the key to conservation. This is the sound footing of the ALUS program, upon which it relies for its continued evolution in the years to come.
For more information on the PEI ALUS program, visit the Government of PEI website.
ALUS Projects in Prince Edward Island
News & Events in Prince Edward Island
On June 4, 2019, ALUS Canada presented the Dave Reid Award to farmers and ranchers for excellence and innovation in producing ecosystem services.
PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry
PEI Department of Environment, Labour and Justice
Growing Forward 2