Innovative stewardship program comes to Lanark County

Thursday, 10 November 2022 15:34

Lanark Highlands
For immediate release
Nov. 8, 2022

A new and innovative community-developed and farmer-delivered program has formed in Lanark County and plans to share the results of its current agriculture stewardship projects in an official launch next year.

The Lanark chapter of ALUS — originally an acronym for Alternative Land Use Services — formed in January 2022. ALUS is a charitable organization with a program that produces, enhances and maintains ecosystem services on agricultural lands, such as wetland restoration and enhancement,riparian buffers, shelterbelts, afforestation (establishing a forest) and native prairie grass restoration. Ecosystem services provide cleaner water and air, habitat, carbon sequestration (capture and storage) and climate resiliency. The program is centred on farmer involvement and local decision making, ensuring local priorities and voices are a part of delivering environmental solutions for communities.

ALUS provides per-acre annual payments to farmers and ranchers dedicated to managing and maintaining approved projects on their land. Projects are targeted for areas that are marginally productive, inefficient to farm or are environmentally sensitive. Generally, a maximum of 20 per cent of workable land is eligible.

After its launch in January 2022, ALUS Lanark formed its local Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC), which oversees the program. The PAC is made up of local farmers (at least 50 per cent of the membership), community stakeholders and other members with relevant expertise (economic, environmental, scientific, etc.). The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) acts as the legal entity for the program, but delivery and management is shared with Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA).

“The partnership of these organizations and the stakeholders involved demonstrates the importance of the agricultural community to Lanark County,” says Alyssa Cousineau, ALUS Senior Hub Manager, Great Lakes. “Farmers play so many roles in our communities and generate economic, environmental and cultural outcomes. ALUS Lanark helps them to effectively steward the environment we all rely on.”

RVCA’s ALUS Lanark Coordinator Derek Matheson explains farming has increased in Lanark County in recent years while other sectors have decreased. "ALUS Lanark helps the county’s network of farmers who are keen to undertake environmental stewardship projects to adapt to the changing landscape and contribute to the health of the community.” 

“The projects aim to contribute to the health of private farmlands while helping the broaderenvironment,” MVCA’s ALUS Lanark Coordinator Marissa Okum adds. “They support biodiversity, reduce downstream flooding in neighbouring communities and ecosystems, and mitigate the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration – capturing and storing carbon dioxide.”

The ALUS Lanark program targets this year are to create two new acres of wetland and enhance five acres of wetland habitat. The first project is to create two new wetlands on a dairy sheep farm along the Rosedale Creek at low, wet spots in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada. The second project is to create a 0.5-acre wetland on a beef farm along the same creek, which will act as a pairing pond to complement another wetland previously established by Ducks Unlimited Canada. A third project is to enhance a large wetland on a farm with livestock along Black Creek and the Swale Wetland off the Rideau River within a source water protection intake protection zone for Smiths Falls.

“Lanark County is a proud supporter of the ALUS Lanark program and providing nature-based solutions,” says Michelle Vala, Lanark County’s Climate Environmental Coordinator and representative on the PAC. “The county’s Climate Action Plan includes strategies to enhance our natural landscape through programs such as ALUS. One of the guiding principles in the plan relates to sequestering carbon and protecting natural resources. We have goals to protect, restore and create wetlands, as well as to promote and establish pollinator habitat as part of our long-term vegetation goals – both of which are potentially achieved through ALUS Lanark. We hope to see the program grow in the years to come.”

An official launch event for ALUS Lanark will be planned after the successful completion of the first projects next year. Farmers interested in applying for project funding can submit an expression of interest with the assistance of a coordinator. The process includes site visits and an agreement.

Funding for ALUS projects comes from a wide spectrum of sources, including private foundations,government programs, municipal governments, individual philanthropists, corporate social responsibility programs and interested partner organizations and agricultural and environmental groups. To donate, contact a coordinator or learn more about the ALUS program, please visit 

For more information/media interviews, contact:

Derek Matheson 
Rural Clean Water Program Manager
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 613-692-3751 ext. 1134 

Michelle Vala
Climate Environmental Coordinator
Lanark County
1-888-9-LANARK, ext. 3114

Todd Westcott
Communications Specialist and Community Liaison

About ALUS
ALUS (originally an acronym for Alternative Land Use Services) is a national charitable organizationthat provides expertise, resources, and direct financial support to 35 communities across sixprovinces where more than 1,400 farmers and ranchers establish and steward nature-based solutionson their land. These solutions deliver ecosystem services to help sustain agriculture and fight climatechange and biodiversity loss for the benefit of communities and future generations. Projects such as enhanced wetlands, windbreaks, riparian buffer zones, wildlife habitats, adaptative agricultural practices and other impactful environmental solutions produce cleaner air, cleaner water, greater biodiversity, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood and drought mitigation, pollinator and wildlife habitat, and other ecological services.