A project that started as a small five-year pilot program in the Kootenays in 2016 has received renewed funding through March 2025 that expands it to the Thompson Okanagan region and beyond.
The federal government, though Environment and Climate Change Canada has committed $455,000 under the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) and Priority Places programs to Farmland Advantage. The funding will be administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, which took over program delivery in spring 2021.
“It enhances the natural values of the land,” says IAFBC chair Jack DeWit of Farmland Advantage. “There are so many things that can be done to improve the ecosystem and everything around it. Some of it might be fencing, reforestation, rangeland enhancement. There are all kinds of things that Farmland Advantage can help with and even provide some compensation. It’s a good program and people feel good about it.”
Farmland Advantage provides producers with an incentive payment of between $1,500 and $3,000 each for improving or maintaining ecological services on their farms. The new funding will help farmers and ranchers continue to enhance and conserve habitats on farmland, benefitting species at risk.
Ottawa has funded Farmland Advantage since 2020. As part of the pan-Canadian approach to transforming species-at-risk conservation in Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada is concentrating conservation efforts on priority places, species, sectors and threats across the country. It has identified 11 priority places, with the two representative regions in BC being Southwestern BC, including the east coast of Vancouver Island, and the “Dry Interior” – a region that includes the Thompson Okanagan and upper Fraser Canyon. The current iteration of the program supports farmers and ranchers in the latter region.
The new funding builds on $133,600 provided last year through the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, a project part of the larger Farmland Advantage program.
At the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, there were 47 farms under contract, 14 hectares of riparian areas assessed and 400 acres of grasslands assessed. Since its inception seven years ago, Farmland Advantage has funded the protection of more than 900 acres.