Agriculture

EG&S Activities and Initiatives in Manitoba

Manitoba is strongly committed to the continued development of provincial sustainable development and EG&S initiatives. The primary provincial objective regarding EG&S is to achieve cost-effective, multiple environmental benefits in co-operation with landowners, in the priority focus areas of water quality and quantity, climate change adaptation and mitigation and biodiversity.

Programming Activities Related to EG&S in Manitoba

Manitoba has numerous programs available that focus on improving water quality and quantity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as biodiversity:

Growing Assurance
The EG&S initiative under the Growing Assurance program provides financial assistance to local Conservation Districts (CDs) to help implement BMPs on farms to restore, conserve and enhance EG&S on the agricultural landscape. This program will target water quality improvements and provide other important environmental services derived from well-managed stocks of natural capital within the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.

Riparian Tax Credit
The Riparian Tax Credit is designed to encourage farm operators to upgrade their management of lakeshores and river and stream banks and it recognizes those who have already done so. This property tax credit is the first program of its type in Canada.

Protected Areas Initiative
Manitoba's Protected Areas Initiative is a government program dedicated to building a network of protected areas that contains the tremendous biological diversity found in Manitoba's varied landscapes.

North American Waterfowl Management Plan and Prairie Habitat Joint Venture
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) is an international action plan to conserve migratory birds throughout the continent. The Prairie Habitat Joint Venture implements the NAWMP in the Prairie Parkland and Western Boreal Forest Ecoregions and directs the conservation of wetlands and associated habitats in the Canadian prairies.

Integrated Watershed Management Planning
Integrated Watershed Management Planning is a cooperative effort by watershed residents, government and other stakeholders to create a long term plan to manage land, water and related resources on a watershed basis.  

Other EG&S Initiatives in Manitoba

Manitoba’s EG&S activities extend beyond programming. While a number of Manitoba-relevant studies have been conducted, valuation methodologies require further refinement and more investigation and research is needed in areas such as public versus private benefits, roles and responsibilities, price discovery, payments, and policy instrument types. MAFRD is supporting research, modeling and evaluation of policy options to determine the most effective EG&S policy instruments for agro-Manitoba. Included in these investigations are conservation auctions and the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources.

1. Conservation Auctions in Manitoba

Investigation of new ways of delivering environmental programming is under way. Market-based instruments (MBIs) are policy instruments that use market forces to create a market where no market is currently operating. These tools utilize trading mechanisms, direct payments, price signals, or auctions to capture a market value. The use of MBIs can lead to improved knowledge and understanding of the costs and benefits of EG&S.

EG&S are fundamentally complex systems without direct market value, preventing straight forward estimation of their associated value or costs. The result is great difficulty creating relevant policy or programs related to EG&S due to difficulties quantifying the benefits provided by EG&S, and determining the costs to restore or maintain ecosystems providing EG&S. In order to address these challenges, MBIs may be used.

The key feature that makes MBIs appropriate to use in the context of EG&S is that there is no established value from the marketplace. The use of MBIs can lead to improved knowledge and understanding of the costs and benefits of EG&S thereby enabling price discovery for providing EG&S. One example of an MBI is the conservation auction. Conservation auctions are a unique type of procurement auction where participating land owners place bids for providing EG&S. Like a conventional procurement auction, participants submit bids indicating the price they are willing to accept/willing to sell their good or service for. The bids are then ordered from lowest to highest (can be either $/unit or whole price). Unlike conventional procurement auctions, typically, multiple winners are selected from lowest to highest until either a budget is exhausted or a unit target is met. Conservation auctions can contribute to economically efficiency and cost effective environmental outcomes when there is not a direct market.

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) is interested in evaluating the use of MBIs and creating awareness of conservation auctions as a means to secure natural capital and EG&S in Agro-Manitoba. The following projects were in response to that interest.

 

  i) A Summary of a Series of Workshops

This project was funded by the Canada and Manitoba governments under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The study was conducted by Katherine Packman and Dr. Peter Boxall, Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta.

In order to address some of the environmental issues transpiring in Manitoba, there has been some investigation of MBIs; conservation auctions are an option that is being explored. In response, a series of workshops were developed in order to provide awareness to relevant stakeholders and to acquire feedback on their suitability in Manitoba. Auction simulations examined the restoration of wetlands on model farms using information provided about the costs associated with the adoption of this practice. In total 13 workshops were completed and 109 participants experienced the conservation auction simulations between the dates of March 8, 2010 and March 19, 2010. Those who were in attendance had varying occupations: government employees, members of non-government organizations, students, professors, and producers.

The main objectives of this project were to:

  • raise awareness of MBIs and conservation auctions
  • determine the opinions of relevant stakeholders in regards to the relevance of auctions in Manitoba
  • investigate auction design features such as payment type, competition, and communication
  • conduct an economic analysis of the results of the auction simulations provided in the workshops for educational purposes

Participants were observed to maximize their potential profit in most auction simulations; however, the level of profit achieved was related to the number of participants submitting bids for a portion of the fixed budget. Differences between the two payment methods were not detected. Overall participants responded positively to reverse auction mechanism, but surveyed responses indicated that there was a distinct division of opinions on reverse auction, based on demographics.

These workshops were being used as an information tool to stakeholders and results of the auctions most likely do not reflect real behaviour that would be anticipated if restoration decisions were required on farm; caution and scrutiny should be used when interpreting the results.

Download the final report Conservation Auctions in Manitoba: A summary of a series of workshops  (PDF 416 KB) 

  ii) Conservation Incentive Program

This program is a co-operative effort by the East Interlake Conservation District (EICD) and the Manitoba government, along with in-kind contributions from Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation and Nature Conservancy of Canada. Program funding is provided by the Canada and Manitoba governments through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. 

The Conservation Incentive Program (PDF 1.35 MB) is being conducted by the EICD and its partners to promote and protect EG&S in the Willow Creek/Dennis Lake sub-watershed using a conservation auction as a delivery mechanism. The environmental priorities are to promote surface water quality improvements, surface water quantity, drinking water quality improvements, nutrient management, fish and wildlife habitat, riparian habitat, biodiversity, soil quality, and carbon sequestration. Eligible practices include shelterbelt or tree establishment, native rangeland restoration or establishment, exclusion fencing, offsite watering, buffer strips, and wetland restoration or onsite water storage. Landowners’  bids will be evaluated using an environmental benefits index in order to provide an objective assessment of the environmental contribution of each project and to target projects in order to maximize the environmental benefit that can be achieved with the program’s budget.

An evaluation is being completed on the implementation of a conservation auction on the landscape and a report will be available in 2013.

 

2. Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER)

INFFER is a decision tool for developing and prioritizing projects/programs to address environmental issues such as water quality, biodiversity, environmental pests, and land degradation. It is being applied to a number of environmental assets of national importance. INFFER is a tool that can be used for planning and prioritizing public investments in natural resources and the environment. The core aim of INFFER is to help investors achieve the highest value environmental and natural resource outcomes that are possible with the available resources.

The INFFER concept was introduced to Manitobans in March 2010 by Dr. Anna Roberts, a member of the award winning team that developed INFFER. Interest in INFFER stems from Manitoba’s goal to explore different means to effectively and efficiently provide environmental outcomes.

Recent studies in Australia suggest that policy instrument selection should depend on the net public benefits associated with the land-use practice. The Australian model indicates that programs should target specific assets that can be spatially defined and selected using INFFER, which utilizes a Benefits:Costs Index (BCI) as a decision-making tool for EG&S projects. The BCI is an index of the benefits that would arise from the project, divided by the project’s total associated costs.

For some environmental assets it is feasible to make a difference to their condition, while for others the problems are more difficult to address. INFFER uses a systematic approach to determine which environmental assets should receive funding, and which policy responses would be appropriate.

The INFFER process consists of the following steps:

  1. Develop a list of significant natural assets in the relevant region(s).
  2. Using a simplified set of criteria, choose the most significant assets from the list.
  3. Define projects and conduct detailed assessments of them.
  4. Select priority projects.
  5. Develop investment plans or funding proposals.
  6. Implement funded projects.
  7. Monitor, evaluate and adaptively manage projects.

For more information visit the INFFER website.