Environmental farm plans to cover species at risk

A new online tool will include technical tips and best management practices for protecting species at risk and habitat

The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is adding a species-at-risk component.

A $200,000 federal grant will be used to create an online tool to help producers learn about opportunities to conserve species at risk on their farms and find out whether they meet sustainable sourcing standards.

Last summer, the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta — which now runs the EFP program — did a study to see how it stacked up against international standards for sustainably sourced food, said Paul Watson, the program’s director.

“The biggest gap is related to species at risk and habitat protection — this project will fill most of that gap,” he said.

A committee drawn from farm groups, conservation associations, and government will oversee the creation of the online tool.

“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.”

As well as positioning producers to tap into market demand for sustainably sourced products, the new component will protect habitat and help with pest control as birds of prey, snakes, badgers and weasels eat gophers, mice and other rodents while other species feed on grasshoppers and mosquitoes. It will include technical tips and best management practices related to species at risk and habitat protection. There is cost to doing an environmental farm plan.

For more info, visit albertaefp.com.

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