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Conservation friendly agriculture can have a positive impact on nature
On the occasion of Canada’s Agriculture Day, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is underscoring the importance of working with agricultural communities to help conserve lands and waters of high conservation value across the country.
The not-for-profit charitable organization has established relationships with farmers and ranchers in different parts of Canada to help maintain, and in some cases improve, the health of working landscapes.
Nature Conservancy of Canada president and chief executive officer, John Lounds, says this day is a valuable opportunity to celebrate Canadian agriculture, our food and the people responsible for it. It also highlights the connection between ranching and large, biologically rich, inspiring open spaces for grassland and habitat conservation.
“Effective conservation needs partnerships. We have been fortunate to join forces with conservation-minded ranchers in various provinces to protect rare and ecologically significant habitats,” said Lounds.
“These are amazing people who are close to the land. Partnering with agriculture, industry and livestock groups has helped NCC better understand issues of concern to these groups, and play a role in local conservation strategies.”
Some of NCC’s partnerships with ranching and agriculture communities include:
- NCC has signed conservation agreements with many families in southern Alberta for the protection of the Waldron, King and Welsch Ranches. These remain working landscapes for agricultural use; however, subdivision and development is not permitted. These areas are important for surface and ground water, wildlife, agriculture, aesthetics and their inspirational values provided by their natural beauty.
- In British Columbia, NCC has partnered with numerous ranching families to protect the province’s rare valley-bottom grasslands. Ranching occurs on a significant portion of B.C.’s grasslands, and these grasslands are also critical habitat for one-third of the province’s species at risk. Working with conservation-minded ranchers, such as the Frolek Cattle Company in the Kamloops area and Pine Butte Ranch near Cranbrook, grasslands allows ranching and conservation to flourish together.
- NCC has lease agreements on many of its properties in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where ranchers use these properties to graze livestock. This helps manage the land sustainably, prevents wildfires and develops good relationships with neighbours. NCC monitors the grass to ensure maintenance of a sustainable resource, year after year. It also shares information on ways to have animals graze to enhance both livestock and grassland values, weed control and prevention, ecological services of grasslands and reducing wildlife–livestock conflicts.
- Many of Canada’s crops, including fruits, vegetables and forage, depend on or benefit from pollination from wild insects. Grasslands, wetlands and forests provide habitats for pollinators that forage on agricultural lands.
- The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a member of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). NCC has provided financial and technical support to help ensure that the health of the grasslands in which ranchers graze livestock is maintained and, wherever possible, enhanced. NCC has also supported CRSB’s development of important environmental goals, including flood control, stream health and the reduction of water footprint and greenhouse gas footprints.
- NCC is also a member of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute Board and is pleased to provide input on conservation benefits and issues related to various forms of agriculture.
- The Nature Conservancy of Canada has also participated with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops, helping develop a common vision for agricultural sustainability. Of particular interest to NCC is helping reduce habitat loss of wildlife on Canadian farms, which impacts biodiversity, and maintaining the health of watershed and aquatic areas.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 2.8 million acres (over 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast.