ALUS Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters officially launched the ALUS Peterborough program in October 2018.
ALUS Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) officially launched the ALUS Peterborough program in the fall, with a special reception followed by a field tour of this ALUS community’s first projects.
OFAH’s Executive Director, Angelo Lombardo, welcomed all guests to the Mario Cortellucci Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre in Peterborough, Ontario, to kick off the October 13 launch with a press conference featuring presentations by ALUS Canada’s CEO, Bryan Gilvesy, and ALUS Peterborough’s Program Coordinator, Henry Bakker.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners at the OFAH, and with ALUS Peterborough’s Partnership Advisory Committee, for many years to come,” said Gilvesy. “Together, we will support Peterborough’s farmers in producing cleaner air, cleaner water and more biodiversity for this part of Ontario.”
Gilvesy commended OFAH, and particularly Bakker, for doing a great job getting the program up and running. ALUS Peterborough began as a pilot program in 2016 and, by the time it became official in 2018, local farmers had already enrolled more than 60 acres into the program.
All ALUS communities aim to address local environmental concerns; for ALUS Peterborough, these concerns centre around the loss of wildlife habitat in this part of Ontario. To that end, they will plant native trees and shrubs, establish oak savannah agroforestry projects, restore fencerows, riparian zones and native tallgrass prairie, and adopt a delayed-haying program.
Why is ALUS a good fit for this region? For one thing, as Bakker explained: “We have a lot of young people committing their lives to farming in Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes, and they’re looking for creative and innovative ways to do that.”
Going forward, Bakker and his team will work with farmers to identify stewardship opportunities on their land, typically by taking some marginal, uneconomic, environmentally sensitive land out of agricultural production and putting it to the production of ecosystem services instead.
The ALUS Peterborough team will also support farmers through the project approval and implementation process, and provide annual, per-acre payments to help them maintain and manage the ALUS projects on their land over time.
After a delicious lunch, guests then set out to see some ALUS Peterborough projects on the ground with a guided tour of two ALUS project sites.
For the first stop on the tour, guests visited ALUS Peterborough PAC member Michelle Macdonald’s farm, near Omemee. Her first ALUS project involved planting native trees to establish 10.5 acres of oak savannah, a rare Ontario habitat combining grasslands and fire-resistant oaks.
In the future, Macdonald intends this ALUS project to support agroforestry, or silvopasture, practices, a mutually beneficial way of integrating trees, forage and grazing for their free-range chickens and pigs, to produce both food and ecosystem services for the community.
At the second stop on the tour, guests visited Jim and Catherine Hughes’ farm, near Lindsay, to learn about a fencing project established during ALUS Peterborough’s pilot project phase. ALUS helped the Hughes family erect a fence around 18 acres of wetland and riparian habitat, to keep the farm’s cattle out of this sensitive area.
They also installed a watering system in the pasture, to provide an alternate source of fresh water for the livestock, and enhanced the habitat value of this area by planting a mix of native trees and shrubs.
With some maintenance and management each year, this ALUS project will continue to produce a whole suite of valuable ecosystem services, such as cleaner water for a large wetland complex located downstream from the property, and improved wildlife habitat for aquatic and other species on the farm.
By the end of the day, guests had seen how the ALUS program works on the ground, and how strongly it can benefit their community in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes.
ALUS Canada is proud to support this new ALUS community with funding from an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow Grant, in partnership with Ontario Nature, as well as from the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and our other Foundational Partners, and from all our generous donors.
Please visit the ALUS Peterborough web page for more information.