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The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation has been awarded $2M to move ahead with hosting a Reverse Auction to restore once cultivated land back to native grassland. The primary land of interest is in the short and mixed grass regions of Saskatchewan and priority would be given to land close to existing grasslands or critical habitat for species at risk. One of the top focuses for this project is monitoring native grasslands ability to store and sequester soil organic carbon so land with an increased potential to do so will be given special consideration.
Importance of Grassland Restoration
Grasslands are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world due to an increase of land conversion to annual cropping and are an important part of Saskatchewans landscape. Converting cultivated lands back to grasslands will increase overall environmental biodiversity by increasing native plant cover and providing important habitat for species at risk. Restoring native grasslands in close proximity to existing grasslands also increases connectivity to reduce habitat fragmentation. In addition to these benefits grasslands are capable of storing and sequestering significant amounts of carbon
What is a Reverse Auction?
The landowner is able to put a price on what it will cost them to convert land back to native grasslands and be maintained in perennial cover for a minimum of 30 years. The SSGF will source and purchase the native seed blend while the landowner is responsible for all other costs including land preparation and seeding, controlling invasive weeds, loss of profit and changes in land value during and after restoration. Landowners must carefully calculate bids to consider all costs associated with grassland restoration. SSGF will consult with all interested landowners to ensure bids are appropriate. If the bid is successful they can ultimately receive compensation for the restoration project.
Reverse Auction Steps
1. Landowners contact SSGF and express interest in restoring cropland back to perennial cover using native species. Information needed includes land location and number of acres.
2. SSGF consults with landowner regarding the land of interest and goes over cost considerations for placing a bid.
3. Landowner places bid to receive money for grassland restoration.
4. SSGF compares all bids to determine a standardized price for restoring crop land back to native grasslands.
5. Successful bidders are selected based on the standardized price created from the levels of all bids submitted and the level of individual bids compared to this price. All landowners are contacted regarding the status of their bids.
6. Restoration Starts: Landowners receive compensation to begin restoration projects.
SSGF will negotiate a legally binding Habitat Restoration Agreement with successful bidders. Bidders must agree to maintain the land in native grass for a minimum of 30 years. Other restrictions may be negotiated as part of the agreement, such as maintaining existing wetlands, and avoiding developing roads or yardsites within the restoration area. These agreements are not tied to title. For more information on Habitat Restoration Agreements click here.
Additional funding is available if the producer is interested in signing a Term Conservation Easement that is tied to the land title. Monitoring will have to be carried out multiple times a year on the land to ensure project success. Communication with landowners will be forefront for when this monitoring needs to take place.
Still have questions to be answered? Click Here for our Reverse Auction FAQ
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