Farmland Advantage has established 27 on-farm riparian (the land closely surrounding a river or stream) restoration sites in four BC watersheds: Koksilah River (Cowichan); Little Campbell River (Surrey); Bertrand Creek (Langley); and the Upper Columbia (Radium). Each have had a riparian health assessment and a riparian management plan completed, and twenty sites have restoration underway.
A total of 150 acres of vulnerable riparian zones will be restored and maintained. The riparian area restoration work will target nutrient uptake so that runoff rich in nutrients does not enter waterways and cause enhanced growth of algae, exhaustion of fish species, and overall deterioration of the quality of water. Additionally, the removal of invasive plant species such as Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, Japanese Knotweed, and Reed Canary Grass are prioritized. Several aquatic species are anticipated to benefit such as White Sturgeon, Nooksack Dace, Salish Sucker, and salmonids.
Farmland Advantage has developed Indigenous partnerships with the Shuswap Indian Band, Cowichan Tribes, and the Semiahmoo Band. Restoration partnerships have also been developed with ARocha Canada, Langley Environmental Partners Society, and the Cowichan Watershed Board. To date, 42 jobs have been created to undertake this important regenerative agriculture and restoration work.
BC is experiencing the effects of climate change more than ever, bringing importance to the collaborative nature of this program.
“It’s important that BC farmers are celebrated and compensated for actively undertaking regenerative agricultural practices and restoration activities that measurably enhance ecosystem services and benefit all of society. With climate change impacts being felt at a rate like never before, elevating the Farmland Advantage program to province-wide program delivery is incredibly timely.”
– Ione Smith, Program Manager
The Farmland Advantage Program (FLA) is a BC-based Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program that provides financial compensation to farmers and ranchers to protect and enhance ecosystem services on lands under their stewardship.
FLA identifies sensitive ecosystems in agricultural areas and works with producers and Indigenous communities to restore, maintain, and enhance ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the things ecosystems do and provide that have a direct and indirect effect on human wellbeing. Clean air, fresh water, rich soil, healthy wildlife populations, and nourishing food are all services healthy ecosystems may provide.
Sites are selected by FLA using a site-selection methodology that has been refined through pilot projects and academic research studies since 2009. FLA provides funding for advisors to work with farmers and ranchers to identify key actions that can be taken, such as removing invasive species, establishing fencing along streams to manage livestock, and planting native species. Following assessment, funding is provided by FLA to complete restoration. Farmers are tasked with maintaining this ecosystem over time. In exchange for this maintenance, farmers receive an annual Payment for Ecosystem Services, to acknowledge the important role that they are playing in protecting salmon habitat and contributing to cleaner water and soils.
The success of FLA is based upon new and established relationships with Indigenous community partners, industry associations, non-profit organizations, academia, and local, regional, provincial, and federal governments.
“We have been extremely pleased with the response rate so far. Over 90% of farmers who were asked to sign on have done so. We have a long waiting list of farmers and ranchers who are keen to join the program in subsequent intakes”.
– Dave Zehnder, program founder
Overall, FLA has experienced very high participation rates and positive feedback from farmers and ranchers involved in the program.