Hand-In-Hand to Save the Land: Embracing Life on Earth
Canadian Environment Week - May 30-June 5, 2010
The maintenance of Canadian and worldwide biodiversity is not a small task. We constantly interact with nature and use its riches to fulfill our essential needs, such as food. Without the integration of a variety of unique and specialized initiatives it would be impossible to maintain a healthy environment to produce the food that we eat. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) offers a number of programs that contribute to Canada's biodiversity and to the health of our fields and crops.
Programs such as the Prairie Shelterbelt Program and the Community Pasture Program benefit farms and the environment. The Shelterbelt Program carefully plants a variety of trees to protect farm crops, livestock and wildlife areas from wind, snow, dust and the hot sun year-round. The Community Pasture Program reclaims badly eroded areas, and converts poor-quality cultivated lands to grass cover which give farmers and their livestock larger grazing areas.
Both initiatives increase water retention in the area, act as a natural filter for run off, prevent erosion, and reduce greenhouse gases while at the same time offer a habitat for birds, animals and pollinators. By planting and maintaining species native to Canada in these areas, biodiversity is being maintained and facilitated.
As stewards of the land, many farms have already been adopting Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) - ways of conserving soil, air, water and biodiversity resources in agricultural landscapes without sacrificing farm productivity. BMPs use a holistic approach to management so that they offer some benefit to the farmer while also significantly minimizing the impacts and risks to the environment created by farming.
The Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial Management Practices (WEBs) project was launched in 2004 to evaluate these BMPs and help farmers maintain high agricultural productivity while protecting the environment.
AAFC works with conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to focus on BMPs that help conserve and increase aquatic land, habitats and wildlife in Canada.
Ducks Unlimited also provides farmers with the opportunity to restore wetlands on their farms to their original size and configuration, often at no cost. Restored wetlands offer a natural filtration system for runoff, they retain water which reduces soil erosion in the area, and they support a wide range of plants and animals that live only in wetlands.
Ducks Unlimited contributes to The North American Waterfowl Management Plan which is a project supported by organizations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The plan works to conserve migratory birds and their habitats in wetlands across North America, and has been considered one of the most successful conservation initiatives in the world.
It is clear that everything in nature is intertwined, and so then our efforts need to be as well. Through collaborative programs and inititaives such as these, farmers, the environment and biodiversity all benefit.
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