Conservation survey participation deadline extended

A survey to gauge western Canadian farmers’ and ranchers’ thoughts on conservation programs has been extended until the end of the month.

Jeremy Pittman of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, seeks to determine which species-at-risk and endangered species conservation programs are most popular with landowners and has an on-line survey designed to get the answers.

The survey was developed with partners in each of the four western provinces as well as the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the federal environment department.

“We’ve had a decent response, right around 200 right now,” Pittman said July 24. “I’m going to start doing some of the preliminary analysis now but I’ll update that if we get more responses in August.”

The goal is to gather data so future conservation programs are workable for landowners.

“If it doesn’t work for producers, it’s not going to work for species, so when we’re looking at designing these programs we want to make sure that we’re designing them in ways that align with agricultural operations,” Pittman said.

“We’re trying to get as broad a response as possible, so we can … understand which options people want more than others.”

There are a handful of different programs in Western Canada that deal with endangered species and species at risk. Many others have come and gone over the years. If policies can be devised that offer several options to producers for preserving species, there would be better uptake, said Pittman.

Landowners with endangered species on their land likely have other wildlife that would also benefit from conservation program participation, he added.

“All these environmental benefits come from working farms and ranches on the Prairies, so it’s kind of an opportunity to highlight that for the broader Canadian public. There are lots of conservation activities out there, but people might not call them that.”

Pittman expects to have an analysis of survey results by late October.

Upon finishing the survey, respondents will be asked if they are willing to participate in a face-to-face interview associated with the project and can enter to win a $100 reward for participation. Participation is anonymous.

The survey can be found at uwaterloo.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bw7CeipWl5yTg69.

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