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Multiple Approaches to Habitat Conservation: Finding the Right Fit Encourages Producers to Manage for Species at Risk Habitat

South of the Divide Conservation Action

Tom Harrison

September 2015 - March 2020

Goal: Biodiversity

Audience: Cow-Calf

Project Type: Pilot

Location: Saskatchewan

The South of the Divide Conservation Action Program Inc. (SODCAP Inc.) is a non profit group created to implement a multi species at risk action plan in southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. Along with one of their board members, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA), SODCAP Inc. is investigating new and innovative programs that would effectively encourage producers to make species at risk a priority in their management decision making on their ranches. SSGA has secured funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to evaluate six programming options. The options include:

Results Based Conservation Agreements
Habitat Management Agreements
Habitat Restoration Agreements
Grass Banking
Niche Product Branding
Term Conservation Easements
To date 30 agricultural producers, including multi-producer groups, have signed legally binding agreements with the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association that impact approximately 200,000 acres of native grasslands and species at risk habitat.

The non prescriptive results based programming option appears to be the most popular agreement among producers but habitat management agreements are required where active intervention is needed (e.g. invasive species control) or where specific habitat requirements of species at risk do not exceed normal agricultural practices (e.g. swift fox). Restoration appears to be very expensive and there is a reluctance for lands to be removed from annual production and converted to native seeding. Niche Product Branding and Grass Banking can fill niche roles. There is very little interest in securement options such as conservation easements.

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