| ||Alberta species at risk will be better protected under a project led by the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). The three year initiative will focus on the development of a new online tool that will help producers know about opportunities to conserve species at risk on their farms, provide them with information and resources, and enable them to assess whether they meet sustainable sourcing standards. The project will use several data sources, including GIS, to simplify and speed up the process of completing an EFP.
“This initiative is an extension of the existing EFP program,” said Paul Watson, Director of Alberta EFP, a program administered by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA). “There is a growing market demand for food that is sustainably sourced. We conducted a study last summer comparing Alberta’s EFP to international standards. Our EFP scored well. The biggest gap related to species at risk and habitat protection - this project will fill most of that gap.”
The main benefit in adding species at risk to the EFP is to help prepare producers for the market demand for sustainably sourced products, but there are other practical benefits:
- Maintaining the integrity of the prairie ecosystem: native grasses, plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals.
- Protecting our prairie heritage and western identity.
- Helping with pest control: birds of prey, snakes, badgers and weasels eat gophers, mice and other rodents; other species feed on grasshoppers and mosquitos.
- Demonstrating good land management.
“The producer perspective is uppermost on our agenda,” said Watson. “Having these groups work with us will help identify any potential concerns and find early adopters who support this mandate. We already know that finding time to complete an EFP can be challenging for producers; Alberta EFP is committed to reducing the time and effort required.”
The SAR component will be added to the EFP, a self-assessment workbook that is available online or in print and will include technical tips and best management practices related to species at risk and habitat protection. Alberta producers may participate in the EFP program at no charge, and trained technicians are available to help with completing and implementing their environmental farm plans. For more details, click here. Register here or call or call 780-612-9712.
Paul Watson, Director
Alberta Environmental Farm Plan