ALUS (Alternate Land Use Services) is currently active in six Canadian provinces: Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Albertan communities that have partnered with ALUS include Lac Ste. Anne, Northern Sunrise County, Lacombe County, Wetaskiwin-Leduc, Red Deer County, Parkland, Mountain View, Flagstaff, Brazeau and Vermillion River.
ALUS Northern Sunrise has the distinction of being the most northerly ALUS community in Canada.
While having the same environmental objectives, each individual chapter of ALUS in different provinces adapts a somewhat different approach depending on the agricultural practices, land use and geographical dictates of a particular area.
In this regard, ALUS Northern Sunrise is the best model to reference in relation to the entire Peace River region and the best model to emulate.
ALUS Northern Sunrise works with local farmers and ranchers to establish ecological projects, where ALUS takes environmentally sensitive, marginally productive lands out of agricultural production and repurposes that land to improve the environment.
Among those environmental improvements are such tangible outcomes as producing cleaner air and water, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood mitigation, pollinator support and wildlife habitat.
A list of ALUS- Northern Sunrise initiatives include “fencing around bodies of water, creating, upgrading and expanding dugouts, installing off-site watering systems for livestock, expanding and repairing riparian buffer zones and re-establishing native grasses, trees and shrubs in the uplands.”
The idea is to let the land return to taking its natural course and ALUS will go in and do what it can to initiate that process.
“Lets say, there is a riparian area where we have some slope stabilization issues, with chemical coming off the field that is not really running through any trees at that point and some soil erosion,” says ALUS – Northern Sunrise coordinator Becky Devaleriola.
“So looking at that we’re saying to the farmer that you are really not making any money off this cropping, so can we pull you back. One day you are not going to have any land there and can we move you back and do some slope stabilization and create a riparian buffer looking after our waterways.”
ALUS also looks at wetlands and encourages farmers to instead of trying to farm through it or to close to it, to take those acres out of production and just let the land be and ALUS will compensate the farmer for those acres.
“In some of the wetlands we are doing exclusion fencing and putting in off-site watering systems if there are cattle on the land. If it is grain then they are just staying away from it. We can go in and do some willow staking and some reforestation in other ways “
ALUS offers farmers and ranchers qualified assistance and annual, market value per-acre payments for the creation, maintenance and long-term management of these environmental projects.
For crop land ALUS pays $60 an acre, for pasture $30 an acre and for ephemeral wetlands within crop land it pays $50 an acre.
“Instead of trying to crop through it and getting a marginal crop for that we will give the farmer fifty dollars an acre if they pull it out of their cropping rotation.“
The mission of the ALUS program is “to extend Canada’s natural heritage across its agricultural lands. With funding from a variety of sources, ALUS will continue to grow and establish new communities across Canada. ”
The eight core principles that ALUS Canada cites as part of its mission are programs that are farmer-delivered, community-developed, integrated, targeted, accountable, science-based, voluntary, and market driven.
As its vision statement says, “Community-developed and farmer-delivered, ALUS sustains agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces for all Canadians, one acre at a time. “
For more information contact Becky Devaleriola, at 780-322-3831 or ALUS@northernsunrise.net.