In the 1950s, agriculture was practiced on 74 per cent of the land in the Credit River Watershed. Development has since reduced much of the farmland and the natural spaces that surround. Today, farmers manage about 34 per cent. However, they actively work to restore natural spaces on marginally productive areas of their properties. Many of the existing woodlands and wetlands in the watershed that provide valuable ecosystem services like natural flood management and carbon capture and storage, were once farmed land. Now, farmers in the Region of Peel can receive compensation and recognition for continuing to keep ecosystem services flowing.
Credit Valley Conservation, along with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Region of Peel have partnered with ALUS on a three-year pilot project to compensate Peel farmers for naturalizing marginal farmland and managing and monitoring natural spaces on their farms. As an extension of the Peel Rural Water Quality Program, the ALUS Peel Pilot provides farmers with stewardship project funding alongside annual payments up to $150 per acre per year for the long-term maintenance of those projects. Eligible projects include native tree and shrub planting, native grassland and wetland restoration, livestock fencing and erosion control structures.
The new pilot recognizes the economic importance and historical tradition of farming in Peel and promotes the continued farming productive of farmland in the watershed. Farmers are encouraged to retire environmentally sensitive and marginally productive farmland. When naturalized, these lands can produce benefits for the farm by creating habitat for beneficial insects and improving soil and water quality.
Naturalizing marginally productive farmland helps protect and enhance more productive and efficient farmland. By building a more resilient farm system, we demonstrate our respect for the hard work and traditions of our agricultural past.
If you’re a farmer in the Region of Peel interested in participating in the ALUS Peel Pilot, connect with CVC’s agricultural stewardship coordinator Mark Eastman at or call 416-294-7335. To learn more about the pilot, visit aluspeel.ca.