Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS)
ALUS Canada is a Canada-wide not-for-profit organization that encourages the delivery of ecosystem services by partnering with agricultural producers to set aside marginal lands or cost-share the implementation of a number of best management practices. The program is entirely voluntary, community developed, and farmer delivered.
ALUS is in its 10th year of operation and is currently active in six provinces across Canada. Participation in Alberta is expanding rapidly, with three counties joining the program this year. As of 2016, a total of nine Alberta counties are participating in some capacity.
The New Acre™ program, which was just launched in November 2016, encourages organizations to invest in local farms and ranches that produce ecosystem services.
Why Is This a Big Deal?
ALUS Canada is essentially bringing to market an opportunity for industry to negotiate with local farmers the provision of ecosystem services. If Alberta continues to pursue an offset framework for industrial development, this is one more tool that industry can use to offset their development.
ALUS also focuses on an ecosystem service approach. It is outcome focused, where farmers are asked to produce ecosystem services on their land, no different than a traditional production agreement for a good sold in the marketplace.
According to ALUS, the New Acre™ program delivers a number of different ecosystem services across a range of different ecological projects funded by the program. The top 10 are listed on their website as follows:
1. Carbon Sequestration
2. Wildlife Habitat (Biodiversity)
3. Water Filtration
4. Pollinator Habitat
5. Erosion Control
6. Species at Risk Habitat
7. Flood Control
8. Drought Mitigation
9. Climate Adaptation
10. Community Resilience
How It Will Work
Theoretically, a company will be able to negotiate a production agreement with ALUS for the ecosystem services they are most interested in. For example, an entity may be most interested in carbon sequestration potential or perhaps they are more interested in water filtration and flood control potential through wetland restoration. Under this program, ALUS has the potential to become the marketplace, bringing together agricultural producers that have the ability to produce ecosystem services with industry representatives interested in offsetting their impact on ecosystem services elsewhere.
With the program just announced this month, the specifics remain unclear regarding how ALUS plans on rolling out the funding. However, this program aligns with the Government of Alberta’s shift to outcome-focused regulation and opens up a great opportunity for industry to start partnering with local communities for the provision of ecosystem services.
Silvacom has extensive knowledge and experience completing ecosystem service assessments of land management alternatives. We are currently members of the Ecosystem Service and Biodiversity Network and are working to increase awareness with industry regarding the benefits of an ecosystem service based approach to sustainability. We also have the necessary tools to identify and map ecological hot spots which can help make your investment dollars go further under a conservation offset framework.
For more information on ALUS and the New Acre™ Project, please check out their website. If you would like more information on how your company can start offsetting development using an ecosystem service approach, please contact us.