Environmental stewardship program gets funding boost

ALUS Canada also recognizes Parkland County rancher Gerry Taillieu with producer innovation award

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An organization that supports farmers and ranchers who provide ecosystem services has received $5 million in funding from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

ALUS Canada has also awarded Alberta rancher Gerry Taillieu its inaugural Producer Innovation Award.

The $5 million in funding will allow expansion of the ALUS (short for Alternative Land Use Services) program and to launch its New Acre program, in which individuals and organizations can sponsor “ecosystem services.” These include creating or preserving wildlife and pollinator habitat; erosion and flood control; water filtration; and carbon sequestration.

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Taillieu, manager of the 14,000-acre Tomahawk Cattle Ranch, helped implement Parkland County’s first ALUS project — fencing off a creek and the drainage channel running through the ranch to the North Saskatchewan River.

“I’m humbled and honoured to be recognized with this award,” Taillieu, an ALUS Parkland committee member, said in a news release. “But I can tell you that I’m not unique. I believe that the desire to look after your own land is almost universal. ALUS helps you take that concern and put it into action.”

ALUS was founded a decade ago as a division of Delta Waterfowl, and was relaunched as an independent organization in May. It partners with county councils, landowners, and other community groups to provide farmers and ranchers with financial incentives to produce ecosystem services specific to their area.

“As a Weston Initiative, ALUS Canada has been able to expand very rapidly,” said Bryan Gilvesy, an Ontario rancher and the organization’s CEO. “We launched in Quebec this summer, bringing our program to six provinces, with more than 18,000 acres devoted to producing ecosystem services. We plan to open in Nova Scotia and in several more communities throughout Ontario and Alberta, with the aim of reaching 25,000 acres by the end of 2017.”

The New Acre initiative, which will be rolled out in the coming months, is intended to be a major source of ongoing funds for the organization.

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