The Gleaner
Agriculture

UPA works on wildlife conservation

The Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie has been working to increase the quantity and quality of habitats for at-risk animal species in the region since 2020.

The three-year project, entitled Mobilizing the Montérégie Farming Community to Conserve Endangered Species and their Habitats, received financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada. It was designed to help a dozen species, including the meadowlark, wood turtle, garter snake, ground bumblebee, and monarch butterfly.

In partnership with the ALUS Montérégie program, the first phase of this initiative allowed farmers to take action to protect local fauna. Julien Pagé, first vice-president of the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie and president of the ALUS Montérégie committee, shares that “It’s thanks to close collaboration between farm owners, agricultural stakeholders, and conservation professionals that we’ve achieved such impressive results. Through the ALUS Montérégie program, agricultural producers are contributing to the creation of sustainable solutions for preserving biodiversity, thus having a concrete impact on the environment and quality of life of their fellow citizens.”

 

An example of delayed mowing on a 1 hectare plot of hay to help field bird populations PHOTO Fédération de lUPA de la Montérégie

 

Over the past few years, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Partnership for Species at Risk on Agricultural Land (PEPTA) has launched several projects with this same goal of wildlife protection. “The agricultural community plays an important role in the restoration and conservation of habitats beneficial to species at risk. Our government is committed to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity in this country, and will continue to work with various partners, including the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie, to achieve this. I would also like to acknowledge the commitment of the farmers who participated in the first phase of this project,” says Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Achievements

As part of this pilot project, four agricultural enterprises in the Montérégie region collaborated with the Société d’aménagement de la Baie Lavallière (SABL) and QuébecOiseaux to delay mowing of hay on at least one hectare of land. As a result, close to a hundred bobolinks and many meadowlarks were observed in 2022. The companies who participated in this pilot project will continue as a part of the ALUS Montérégie program, after signing a five-year voluntary conservation contract.

To support endangered bumblebee species, 18 agricultural businesses participated in a different pilot project involving planting flower strips. One of these businesses stood out for alternating flower strips with its crops. Another made a meadow with lots of milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. Collaborating on this project was Dr. Valérie Fournier’s team at Université Laval; they catalogued over a thousand bumblebees belonging to over 20 species, some of which are endangered.

Eight more businesses worked to increase the quantity and quality of habitats present for local herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). Granby Zoo and the Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP) conducted a survey of wood turtles, confirming their presence amidst some of these agricultural businesses. One company worked with Appalachian Corridor to reforest their riparian strips with turtle-friendly plants. Another ran a pilot project with Connexion Nature where it created hibernacula and summer shelters for the spotted garter snake.

Interactive guide and other communication tools

An interactive guide was created during Phase 1 of this project to help keep Montérégie farmers informed and to promote their work. It also helped raise public awareness for the conservation of at-risk animals and their habitats. This guide also presents the 12 species who are at risk, as well as the agricultural management practices most beneficial to their conservation; it can be found on the UPA’s website: monteregie.upa.qc.ca/producteur/agroenvironnement/especes-en-peril. (CF)

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