Nature Canada

There is great opportunity for implementing nature-based solutions on agricultural lands.

Large areas of land now dominated by agriculture or ranching remain important territories for the cultures of First Nations and Metis peoples. Nature-based solutions on these lands, as on all lands, must recognize inherent, Treaty and constitutionally protected rights, and contribute to reconciliation, and empower Indigenous Peoples to exercise their authority.

Farmers and ranchers are the largest private landowner group in Canada, managing about 8% of our lands. In addition to providing food for much of the Canadian population, farmland can benefit ecosystems through carbon sequestration, water filtration, and by providing habitats for many species.

Carbon captured by plants is primarily stored in root systems and soils. This means that activities like breaking the ground for agricultural purposes release greenhouse gases. The agriculture sector in Canada is responsible for 12% of GHG emissions, not including carbon that is released from soils when land is disrupted or converted. 

Engaging farmers, ranchers, and Indigenous peoples in nature-based climate solutions can help prevent climate change and biodiversity loss while protecting those living on the land from the dangers of climate change, including extreme weather damage to crops and soil, and more frequent droughts and floods.

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1. Protect

Protecting agricultural land can be a challenge: each year prime farmland is lost due to urban expansion.

About the challenge →

2. Manage

Expert management should also take into account biodiversity and climate goals.

Sustainable Management →

3. Restore

Farmers can restore agricultural land and enhance their role in capturing carbon.

Key Practices →

4. Adapt

Adaptation measures to ensure the health of farms and ranchlands in face of the threats of climate change are critical.

Adaptation Measures →

Protecting Agricultural Land

Each year tens of thousands of hectares of prime farmland are lost due to urban expansion. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of acres of forests are felled and wetlands drained to create additional areas for growing crops. 

It’s estimated that there are 356,000 hectares of wetlands on the prairies that are threatened by conversion to cropland. Improved protection of existing farmland, wetlands, and trees is crucial.

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nbcs-agriculture-img-01

Protecting Agricultural Land

Each year tens of thousands of hectares of prime farmland are lost due to urban expansion. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of acres of forests are felled and wetlands drained to create additional areas for growing crops. 

It’s estimated that there are 356,000 hectares of wetlands on the prairies that are threatened by conversion to cropland. Improved protection of existing farmland, wetlands, and trees is crucial.

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Sustainable Land Management

Farmers and ranchers are experts at managing their lands for high outcomes. However, management should also take into account biodiversity and climate goals. Examples include:  

  • Maintaining good soil health to store carbon and prevent flooding 
  • Reducing fertilizer use and using better applications methods on croplands
  • Creating buffer zones along waterways and wetlands on the property
  • No-till farming
  • Planting cover crops to enhance soil carbon sequestration 
  • Managing native grassland and other vegetation on active grazing areas for climate and biodiversity values

Key Restoration Practices

Farmers can engage in a range of practices to restore agricultural land and enhance their role in capturing carbon. These practices include:

  • Converting developed ranching fields to native grasses and vegetation 
  • Restoring wetlands that have been previously filled in 
  • Planting trees, shrubs, or other native vegetation along buffer areas in croplands 
  • Rotational grazing
  • Replanting and restoring abandoned crop fields 

Key Restoration Practices

Farmers can engage in a range of practices to restore agricultural land and enhance their role in capturing carbon. These practices include:

  • Converting developed ranching fields to native grasses and vegetation 
  • Restoring wetlands that have been previously filled in 
  • Planting trees, shrubs, or other native vegetation along buffer areas in croplands 
  • Rotational grazing
  • Replanting and restoring abandoned crop fields 

Adaptation Measures

Tens of thousands of families depend on farming for income, and millions of us rely on foods from farms.

Adaptation measures to ensure the health of farms and ranchlands in face of the threats of climate change are critical. They can include initiatives to improve soil carbon, maintain native vegetation,  improve water and water quality, enhance sustainable food production, and adopt regenerative practices.

Examples

Taking Action in Canada

  • ALUS Programs – National: Helps farmers and ranchers plan, organize and establish new projects that provide ecological benefits. Participating receive payments for implementing projects.

Want to Help?

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