FREDERICTON, N.B. (June 30, 2020) - The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) is once again taking the lead on a national project that will benefit Canada's grasslands and forage producers.
With financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada as part of the Canada Nature Fund, the CFGA is working with national and provincial stakeholder committees, governments, Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) delivery agents and agricultural associations to develop province-specific, on-line habitat and biodiversity management tools.
CFGA executive director, Cedric MacLeod says, once developed, the tool will help producers identify habitats present on their farms worth a closer look for conservation to support enhanced biodiversity on their operations. The tool also provides some guidance on beneficial management practices (BMPs) relevant to the habitats they may be stewarding. The province-specific tool will be delivered as an online module, likely tied to provincial EFP-planning programs.
This CFGA project builds on a recent three-year species-at-risk initiative in Alberta that was supported with funding from the Government of Canada's Species at Risk on Agricultural Land (SARPAL) program. CFGA projects are now underway in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia with contractors collecting and processing data to customize the tool for each province and developing online interfaces that fit with the conventions of the online EFP processes in each jurisdiction.
"The CFGA was selected as the funding recipient because of its national forage and grassland stewardship and extension mandate, its past and on-going involvement in assessment of Canadian grasslands as carbon sinks, and its prior role in researching biodiversity management BMPs through the SARPAL program," says MacLeod.
The CFGA recognizes that engaging producers in grassland conservation will help Canada meet international and domestic conservation obligations related to protecting species at risk and climate change action.
"Demonstrating what producers are doing to protect grasslands can contribute to proof of sustainable sourcing for Canadian agri-food products and can help producers establish a record of due diligence relative to obligations related to biodiversity management under federal and provincial legislation," says MacLeod. "This project seeks to draw these threads together in an approach that positions agricultural landholders to take a leadership role in conservation with support from the conservation community."
The four-year, $1.2-million project will be delivered in a number of phases, will be delivered in as many provincial jurisdictions as technically feasible and will potentially be applicable to all Canadian agricultural lands.
It is a timely project for the CFGA given the Government of Canada's commitment to protect 25 percent of Canada's land by 2025.
"That is a tall order, but grasslands can play a vital role in helping Canada hit that target and forage producers are poised to be major contributors in protecting 25 by 25," says MacLeod. "Big things are happening and this project will give producers the tool they need to focus on biodiversity. No one is going to require this, but it is a role agriculture can play."