Ecological Goods and Services Programming for Agricultural Lands

The cumulative impacts from land degradation, loss of natural areas, and climate change, including more frequent and severe weather events, are environmentally and economically negative for Canada. Our ecosystems and land are becoming less productive in providing key ecosystem goods and services such as clean water, wildlife habitat, pollination services, and flood and drought control for surrounding and downstream communities. These losses are most acutely felt on the working landscapes of Canada where the majority of Canadians live.

Federal investment into an Ecological Goods and Services (EGS) program for agricultural lands will help rebuild, enhance and manage natural features like grasslands, wetlands, afforested areas, and riparian buffers on farm and ranch lands.

Other benefits include the opportunity to:

  • Create significant employment in rural Canada, especially for young professionals with agricultural, environmental and management training;
  • Enhance the sustainability of food production through increased pollinator services, soil improvement and retention, and water retention and filtration;
  • Target marginal (uneconomic) land for projects thereby not impacting food production;
  • Provide a new and additional revenue stream to farmers and ranchers based on project outcomes and management;
  • Create new wildlife habitat for species-at-risk, migratory birds, waterfowl and other game species, and native pollinators; and
  • Reduce GHG emissions / sequester carbon.

EGS programming provides a unique mechanism to positively engage private land-owners and managers in the fight against climate change. It is an efficient tool to rebuild land-based carbon stores — so far, an underutilized climate change mitigation strategy. And perhaps more important is the climate adaptation and resiliency that will come from enhancing ecosystems and natural cover to building greater flood and drought mitigation capacity in key watersheds as regional climates change over the coming decades.

Recommended  Investment:

$20 million in 2020, ramping up to $100 million per year for the subsequent four years (2020- 2025) [ECCC, AAFC] for an Ecological Goods and Services Program for farmers and ranchers.

This program would: create between 300 and 600 jobs in rural communities; reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon; restore and enhance native and tame grasslands, wetlands, riparian habitat and other natural areas, including providing tree planting opportunities; create new wildlife habitat for pollinators, species-at-risk, migratory birds and game species; mitigate flood and drought and improve water quality; and increase agricultural sustainability through soil protection and water security. [ECCC, AAFC]

Martin Settle –
Carolyn Callaghan –
Lara Ellis –