Conservation projects announced in Manitoba

Manitoba is unique.

Not because of its polar bears, or mosquitoes.

The province has adopted a unique approach to fight climate change and improve the environment. The government has placed more than $100 million into the Conservation Trust. The interest from that investment will help pay for projects that combat droughts, reduce the impact of floods, improve soil health and enhance wildlife habitat.

“We’re not going to fix climate change by one big project. It’s many, many small projects,” said Blaine Pedersen, minister of agriculture and resource development.

“Many small projects will add up to a bigger result.”

In late May, the province announced $1.8 million in funding for 23 projects in Manitoba, with matching funds of $5.4 million from other groups. The projects will target a number of goals: such as reducing soil erosion, repairing riparian habitats and educating the public.

In 2018, the province committed $102 million to the Conservation Trust. The investment is part of the province’s Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. The Winnipeg Foundation manages the trust and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corp. decides which projects will be funded. The trust is expected to fund about $5 million in projects every year.

Charitable trusts are common in Canada, where interest from the investment is used to support worthwhile projects.

But a government-funded trust is unusual.

“My understanding is it is unique,” said Pedersen, who likes the model because it’s permanent.

“Due to the innovative approach… the Conservation Trust’s revenues ensure we are able to invest in worthy projects year after year, no matter the financial pressures Manitoba faces.”

The 23 projects, announced in May, include three managed by the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association (MFGA).

Larry Wegner, MFGA chair, said the goal for MFGA is producer profitability from agricultural lands being properly managed.

One of the MFGA projects is focused on cover crops. They are working with producers in three watershed districts, Central Assiniboine, Assiniboine West and Souris River, to increase adoption of cover crops.

Farmers new to cover crops are eligible for the program.

“It’s fully prescribed (for 2020),” said Duncan Morrison, MFGA executive director. “It’s not the early adopters. It’s people who have been watching it and want to try it. “So, you couldn’t have had a cover crop last year. They have to be brand new (at it).”

The Manitoba government has also invested $52 million into another environmental trust, called Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW). It’s designed to

preserve wetlands and support water management projects, mostly at the farm level

“(It’s) more on the individual producer projects,” Pedersen said. “The Conservation Trust is more broadly based (for) our watersheds, districts and group projects.”

For more information on Manitoba’s Conversation Trust, go to: www.mhhc.mb.ca/the-conservation-trust/.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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