Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Species at Risk Stewardship Program funds ALUS to create 2,270 acres of farmer-led habitat projects throughout the province
A wetland and tree planting project completed as part of the MECP SARSP grant in Middlesex County. Photo Credit: ALUS Middlesex
Toronto, ON, February 28, 2023 — Farmers participating in ALUS programs throughout Ontario help build native habitat that supports species at risk. Utilizing $750,000 in funding from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Species at Risk Stewardship Program (MECP SARSP), 211 producers from Ontario communities have exceeded the grant target and created 2,270 acres of habitat to support species at risk since 2020.
ALUS habitat projects come with a commitment from participating landowners for ongoing stewardship of the habitat. This commitment ensures a greater success rate after project establishment and the successful, long-term ecosystem outcomes. For their stewardship efforts, ALUS participants receive annual payments, creating a win-win for landowners and nature.
“The wonderful thing about ALUS and ALUS participants is how these environmental projects provide solutions to so many environmental challenges,” says Casey Schelock, Associate Director, Development and Operations, ALUS. “In the case of the funding from the Ministry, ALUS participants and community programs were able to create habitats that support Species at Risk, species that are important members of the province’s ecology, providing incredible value to the human communities that depend on these ecosystems.”
ALUS projects are placed on marginal, ecologically sensitive and uneconomic parcels of land, as selected by the landowner. Through this unique, farmer-first process, ALUS participants diversify what their land produces, not just food, fuel and fibre, but environmental outcomes. As such, ALUS participants are essential to the organization’s mission to create healthy landscapes that sustain agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces, benefiting communities and future generations.
During the 2020–23 MECP SARSP funding period, ALUS projects targeted support for at risk species in Ontario, including the American Eel, Bobo-link, Eastern Meadowlark, Snapping Turtle, Barn Swallow, Cutlip Minnow, Monarch Butterfly, Northern Map Turtle and Musk Turtle. Support for Species at Risk contributes to diverse and resilient ecosystems that provide Ontarians valuable economic and environmental goods and services.
Habitat created through the grant includes 1,445 acres of grasslands, 431 acres of trees and shrubs and 108 acres of wetlands. Each habitat and project were designed with local species-at-risk priorities in mind and serve the local ecology.
ALUS (originally an acronym for Alternative Land Use Services) is a national charitable organization that provides expertise, resources, and direct financial support to 35 communities across 6 provinces where more than 1,400 farmers and ranchers establish and steward nature-based solutions on their land. These solutions deliver ecosystem services to help sustain agriculture and fight climate change and biodiversity loss for the benefit of communities and future generations. Projects such as enhanced wetlands, windbreaks, riparian buffer zones, wildlife habitats, adaptative agricultural practices and other impactful environmental solutions produce cleaner air, cleaner water, greater biodiversity, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood and drought mitigation, pollinator and wildlife habitat, and other ecological services.
This funding is part of the Ontario government’s Species at Risk Stewardship Program. It was created under the Endangered Species Act to encourage people and organizations to get involved in protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats through stewardship activities.