Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ALUS program?
Active in six Canadian provinces to date, the ALUS program works with farmers to produce valuable ecological services on farmland.
Specifically, ALUS helps farmers and ranchers restore wetlands, reforest, plant windbreaks, install riparian buffers, manage sustainable drainage systems, create pollinator habitat, pilot alternative land management practices and establish other ecologically beneficial projects on their properties.
What’s more, ALUS provides per-acre annual payments to ALUS participants to recognize their dedication to managing and maintaining all the ALUS projects on their land.
What makes ALUS unique?
ALUS is unique, because the program is community-developed and farmer-delivered. ALUS recognizes the important role farmers and ranchers play as stewards of the land and empowers them to deliver nature-based solutions on their land.
What are ecosystem services?
ALUS helps farmers and ranchers establish and maintain projects that produce ecosystem services. These include cleaner air, cleaner water, drought and flood mitigation, climate adaptation, carbon sequestration, species at risk habitat and all our native bees and pollinators. More details about ecosystem services.
Where does ALUS program operate?
ALUS is currently active in more than 30 communities in six Canadian provinces (PEI, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta). New communities are added each year.
Who runs the ALUS program?
ALUS is the national organization that funds, oversees and supports local ALUS programs in communities. The organization consists of a small but growing group of dedicated staff with recognized expertise in their respective field.
What's the difference between local ALUS programs and the parent organization?
ALUS is the parent organization of all the local ALUS programs administered at the community level. The parent organization provides logistical, financial, technological and creative resources for each of the local programs and ensures that each community has what they need to support their grassroots participants and projects.
Who makes decisions in local ALUS communities?
ALUS is a community-delivered program. Each ALUS community establishes a Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC) to direct its local ALUS program. The PAC includes a broad spectrum of community members, such as representatives from local environmental groups, local government agencies and local industry. Approximately 50 percent of each PAC is made up of farmers. The parent organization advises and supports, but it’s a firm principle of the organization that local decision-making is the best way for communities to get the impacts they desire.
Who funds ALUS?
Funding for ALUS projects comes from a wide spectrum of sources, including private foundations, government programs, municipal governments, individual philanthropists, corporate social responsibility programs, and interested partner organizations and agricultural and environmental groups. ALUS also has many supporting partners that have generously donated in-kind support.
What kind of projects does ALUS fund?
Here are a few examples of projects funded by ALUS:
- Expanded riparian buffer zones that provide critical wildlife habitat and improve water quality.
- New, enhanced or restored wetlands that improve water quality and can protect communities against spring flooding and offset the impact of droughts.
- New, enhanced or restored native prairie that enhances natural grazing, haying options, and critical habitat for species at risk.
- Pollinator hedgerows that provide habitat for native bees which in turn pollinate our agricultural crops and wild plants.
- Enhanced grazing to catalyze accelerated grass growth and build rich, healthy soils that sequester carbon.
- Many other types of off-field or on-field projects that produce valuable ecosystem services.
FAQ for Potential ALUS Participants
How do farmers and ranchers get involved?
Farmers and ranchers in ALUS communities who are interested in enrolling some of their land in the ALUS program should submit an expression of interest, which provides basic details on their operation. Site visits follow to determine what areas of the farm are best suited for an ALUS project. Participants sign a term agreement. They can opt-out at any time, and annual payments are adjusted accordingly.
Interested? Become an ALUS participant.
How much are the annual payments?
ALUS provides per-acre annual payments to ALUS participants to recognize their dedication to managing and maintaining all the ALUS projects on their land. These annual payments are usually based on the average land rental rates in the local area.
What type of land can a farmer or rancher enroll?
Most ALUS projects target areas that are marginally productive, inefficient to farm or environmentally sensitive. Typical examples include saline areas along watercourses, steeply sloped crop land, low wet field areas, and odd areas that are difficult to farm with larger equipment. ALUS is now also supporting alternative land management practices that produce environmental benefits, such as ensuring appropriate timing and intensity of grazing.
How are project ideas developed?
All projects are developed in consultation with the farmer or rancher. Project development considers local ecology, project objectives (such as curtailing wind erosion) and the type of farming operation.
Do you monitor and follow-up on projects?
All projects are monitored by ALUS program staff and independently audited by trusted farm organizations or credible institutions.
How long is the conservation agreement?
Agreements run from three to ten years in length.
Can the farmer opt out?
An opt-out option is available and payments are adjusted accordingly.
Does ALUS artificially increase farm incomes?
ALUS is an ecological goods and services delivery program that uses “fee-for service” model to provide environmental benefits. ALUS provides these benefits at fair market value and does not provide environmental subsidies that artificially increase farm incomes.
How does ALUS affect our trade agreements?
ALUS meets international trade obligations and is similar to programs undertaken by our trading partners to deliver ecosystem services. The program is designed to be production-neutral.
Are carbon credits part of the ecological good and services ALUS is paying for?
ALUS provides initial cost-sharing as well as per-acre annual payments to ALUS participants. This supports the establishment, management, and maintenance of ecosystem services on farmland. ALUS projects deliver a full suite of environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration, cleaner air, cleaner water, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity. ALUS agreements are voluntary and range from three to ten-year terms.
The full suite of ecological services produced by ALUS projects have economic value. ALUS is actively engaged in the development of ecosystem service marketplaces. ALUS is working with experts to better quantify ecosystem services while monitoring the advancement of a functioning carbon market in Canada.