National agriculture and biodiversity organization ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) recently announced that funding from WWF-Canada’s Nature and Climate Grant Program, presented in partnership with Aviva Canada, has helped support biodiversity though habitat and ecosystem creation and enhancement in the communities of Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and Outaouais, Quebec.

In 2021 and 2022, WWF-Canada’s funding allowed ALUS Chatham-Kent and ALUS Outaouais to successfully deliver 20 hectares of projects encompassing a range of critical ecosystems. Participating farmers receive initial project funding, as well as ongoing financial compensation for the maintenance and management of the ecosystems they create under the ALUS program. These nature-based solutions to environmental challenges, like biodiversity loss, flooding and drought, deliver long-term benefits to the land and surrounding communities.

“Through ALUS, farmers in Ontario are creating essential outcomes for their communities, supporting native plant and animal species and building environmental resilience,” says Alyssa Cousineau, eastern hub manager for ALUS. “Funding provided by WWF-Canada’s Nature and Climate Grant Program, presented in partnership with Aviva Canada, make it possible for ALUS to finance local programs that support farmers in creating these vital outcomes.”

Volunteers from WWF-Canada got hands-on with Ian McClatchy’s tree and shrub windbreak. Image credit: ALUS.

This program has helped support farmers like Ian McClatchy, who was one of the first participants in the ALUS Outaouais program, which launched in 2021. With ALUS Outaouais, McClatchy planted a double row of native trees and shrubs.

This project will provide long-term benefits to his farm, slowing the wind, capturing water and storing carbon. Each function helps to address broader environmental concerns, but they also contribute to localized successes for the participating farmer.

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Moreover, the project was undertaken with the neighbouring farms, Ferme Forêt and Ferme Sol, that also planted a single row of trees, creating a cross-property tree and shrub windbreak. This collaborative spirit underpins the success of ALUS, through which communities and individuals receive, contribute and create support for each other and the environment.

“WWF-Canada is thrilled to support groups like ALUS taking meaningful and measurable actions to restore nature through our Nature and Climate Grant Program, presented in partnership with Aviva Canada” says Heather Crochetiere, senior specialist of ecosystem restoration with WWF-Canada. “The benefits generated through the work of ALUS Chatham-Kent and ALUS Outaouais are a fantastic example of the potential for nature-based climate solutions to use the unique powers of nature to both capture and store carbon, which helps mitigate climate change, and safeguard species.”

In ALUS Chatham-Kent, Betty and Allan Hubbell worked with ALUS to create three acres of native grassland that will work in harmony with hardwood forest on their land to create a vibrant, resilient and diverse ecosystem, one that is intended to provide benefits well into the future.

“We have one young grandson, now 18 months old. And the second grandson on the way is due to arrive this spring,” said Allan Hubbell. “We hope this project plays a small part in building our sustainable future for a better environment as they grow towards adulthood.”

Projects like McClatchy’s and the Hubbells’ are just two examples in an incredible network of more than 1,100 farmers and ranchers across Canada that are working with ALUS to create vital ecosystem functions through construction or enhancement of green and blue infrastructure.

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Featured image: Alyssa Cousineau (right) helps Ian McClatchy with planting trees and shrubs on his farm in Outaouais, Quebec. Credit: ALUS.


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