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The Green Acreages Guide in Action

Posted November 12, 2018 by LSC

The last Alberta census indicated that rural residential landowners represent 14% of Alberta’s population – a growing proportion of the rural population. Acreage living can offer much that urban living does not, including having nature right at your doorstep. But, it can also be overwhelming, especially for those accustomed to urban life, to manage the many aspects of an acreage or recreational land property.

Discover how one southern Alberta acreage owner has used the Green Acreages Guide resources to help transform his acreage, reduce his carbon footprint and, ultimately, become a better steward of his property.

Guiding a Transformation

Several years ago, when Terry Krause bought his Red Deer County acreage, a good portion of the property consisted of bare ground and an unhealthy groundcover mix consisting of timothy, quack grass and Canada thistle. With a mind to improving the ecosystem services, natural functions and biodiversity associated with his property, Terry turned to his copy of the Green Acreages Guide Workbook to help him remedy the issues he was facing and improve the health of his acreage landscape.

“The Green Acreages Guide helped validate our ideas and inform our path to transforming our acreage,” explains Terry. With the help of the Guide, Terry has implemented numerous best management practices on his property. He’s also quick to point out that the information in the Guide enabled him to adopt practices that best suited his needs and goals for his property. For example, rather than just use a huge open plot that would be barren over the winter and have no habitat value, the garden was instead designed as four plots with crisscross pathways lined with fruit trees (e.g. sour cherries, choke cherries and honey berries) and perennial flowers to provide year round cover for birds and insects. By keeping the garden plots smaller and surrounded with cover, the garden functions better ecologically year round.

A Plan With a Purpose

In addition to establishing a large, diverse garden and naturescaping (e.g. combining early and late flowers species to cover the season for pollinators), Terry planted 1,000 trees and shrubs on his 2.5 acres, using shelterbelt hybrids and a genetic diversity of tree/shrub species to mimic nature as closely as possible.

He also seeded the remaining acreage to a fescue-grass mix that enabled him to limit mowing to three or four times a year, fostering a deep rooted system. As a result, impermeable surfaces have been minimized as much as possible and the deep rooted vegetation and grass does a good job of sponging up precipitation. Grass clippings are also swept up and used in the garden as mulch/compost and the house itself even has a number of efficiency features incorporated.

An Informative Resource

All of Terry’s efforts have resulted in a beautiful and a more sustainable acreage; one with a landscape that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also yields fruits and vegetables, and benefits the natural world.

In addition to reinvigorating the property, Terry says implementing best management practices and being very purposeful about what he planted on the acreage has improved habitat for an abundance of important wildlife, such as birds, bumble bees and other pollinators.

“The Green Acreages Guide covers a range of topics and is hugely informative,” offers Terry. “I would recommend it to anyone thinking of moving to an acreage or who has just moved to an acreage. It will give you the basics but also helps you understand the more detailed aspects of how to better manage or transform your acreage property.”

Learn more about the Green Acreages Guide resources and what they can do for you.

Together We Can Do More

Posted November 11, 2018 by LSC

If you work or volunteer in the non-profit sector in Alberta, or even if you’ve attended a conference or networking event recently, you’ve heard how important collaboration is in a time when more and more groups are competing to secure limited funding, stay relevant and have a real impact. Keep reading to learn how several non-profit organizations are using the power of collaboration, and thinking outside the box, to further their collective missions. You’ll be inspired to do the same!

Learning Through Experience

The Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area consists of 4,800 acres of rolling foothills land that was donated by Ann and Sandy Cross for the protection of wildlife habitat and conservation education. Inside Education was founded in 1985 with the mission of helping teachers and students to better understand the science, technology and issues related to our environment and natural resources. These two organizations have come together to combine their expertise and strengths in a complimentary, creative and collective way.

Inside Education is bringing their programming expertise and ASCC is providing the beautiful natural backdrop for a unique learning experience intended to teach students how to be engaged and responsible environmental stewards.

“By combining our expertise, and utilizing a landscape level approach, we can address many environmental topics that are a part of Alberta’s education curriculum in a unique and experiential way,” explains Kathryn Wagner, Program Director with Inside Education.
Inside Education plans to lead ongoing education classes within the ASCCA area to teach students about and give them a hands-on appreciation for sustainable agriculture practices.

“Inside Education is a well-known and respected education organization, and the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area has a rich history of conservation practices and education,” offers shares Grey Shyba, CEO at ASCCA. “Bringing our two organizations together provides a great opportunity to enhance educational programming and encourage people to treat the landscape as a community and not just a commodity.”

Growing a Network

Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) is also no stranger to thinking outside the box when it comes to collaboration. In 2015, recognizing a natural alignment between their respective visions and missions, a natural cross over among their respective audiences, and a desire to utilize resources more efficiently, LSC and Nature Alberta entered into a shared-services agreement. Working together in effective and creative ways has shown to be a very productive approach to delivering consistent and stable support to the volunteer natural history organizations and stewardship groups that these organizations serve.

The success that LSC and Nature Alberta have had working together has resulted in more organizations seeking to collaborate, share resources and expand their impact. Through similar arrangements, LSC is now providing executive oversight to the Beaver Hills Biosphere (a recently designated UNESCO site), and serves as the secretariat for the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network (a multidisciplinary group of experts working to build the knowledge required to assist with the implementation of an ecosystem services approach in Alberta).

Investing in Each Other

Think of collaborations as an investment in proactive relationships that help reduce overhead costs, strengthen grant applications, provide more integrated services and deliver more effective programs, which ultimately increases the efficiency and impact of the organizations involved.

That said, the challenge with starting a collaboration can often lay in finding the time to explore potential opportunities, identifying shared goals and “the right fit”, and then moving from the idea stage to on-the-ground action.

“The best thing anyone can do is pick up the phone, start sharing ideas and look for places to add value,” suggests Kathryn.

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