For Immediate Release
January 11, 2016
The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) is pleased to announce they have received $2.58 million from Environment and Climate Change Canada to lead a voluntary, producer-driven project to conserve habitat for species at risk in Saskatchewan.
The Species at Risk Partnership on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) fund supports projects that engage the agricultural sector in preserving key wildlife habitat. Potential initiatives through this project are designed to fit landowners’ unique circumstances, and will include new and inventive conservation strategies that meet the needs of producers and habitat. The work will take place over five years in southwestern Saskatchewan, in areas covered by the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program (SODCAP Inc.), who will also be involved in the delivery of the pilots.
“Agricultural producers are key partners in our ongoing efforts to protect and recover species at risk,” said The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. “With this fund, we’re supporting the many Canadian ranchers and farmers using land stewardship practices that benefit wildlife. We also look forward to continuing our work, with all stakeholders, on innovative solutions that conserve species at risk across Canada.””
“We’re glad to take the lead on this,” says SSGA president Doug Gillespie. “Most of Saskatchewan’s remaining native grass prairie is on privately-managed ranchland. Stewardship is a core value of the SSGA and our members are in the best position to protect habitat for species at risk.”
Landowners face a variety of circumstances in how they balance production with conservation, Gillespie says, and they need appropriate and adaptable options to suit their requirements. The SSGA’s proposal includes some innovative ideas – like habitat restoration, results-based conservation agreements, and grass banking – as well as money for fencing and other infrastructure that will protect the land and the water.
“Ranchers, livestock and species at risk can co-exist, and they have been for generations,” says Tom Harrison, Executive Director of SODCAP Inc., a grass-roots organization who has been delivering programming in the target area. “We look forward to assisting SSGA with the development and delivery of these voluntary agreements,” Harrison explains, and adds that the conservation tools and strategies utilized will be new to Saskatchewan, and in many cases, Canada.
“SARPAL is the right approach,” Gillespie said. “Regulations and fines don’t make sense when the ranching industry has voluntarily protected this habitat all along. Given the right tools, we’ll be able to do what’s best to support biodiversity on the land.”