Species at Risk Initiative

Watch our video about Species At Risk. 

Why is it important to know about this?

  • Contributes to sustainable sourcing
  • Benefits for producers
  • Benefits to the environment and society

The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) has begun a three year Species at Risk (SAR) initiative with funding provided by the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk on Agricultural Land (SARPAL) program.

About 75% of species at risk in Alberta are found in the Grassland and Parkland regions. The goal is for Alberta producers to know which species at risk they may have on their land and how to make simple changes that will conserve them and their habitats.

The SAR component will roll into the EFP – a self-assessment tool that is available online or in print. Click here to find out more about completing an EFP >

albertaefp-logo   canada-logo

  • Conservation practices that support species at risk, critical habitat and biodiversity offer many benefits to producers:

    • Supports agricultural sustainability
    • Helps you with pest control (natural predators mean fewer chemicals)
    • Improved water quality and quantity, and erosion control
    • Nutrient-rich forage for livestock
    • Makes you eligible for special programs and incentives
    • Keeps you competitive: prepared to meet market demands for sustainable sourcing
    • Gives you pride of place in our prairie heritage
  • This hawk is a farmer's friend - return the favour

    The Ferruginous Hawk lives in Alberta’s grasslands; a nesting pair can consume nearly 500 ground squirrels (gophers) in a single breeding season. That means less destruction to forage and pasture, and fewer or no pesticides. But fires, land development, and agricultural and industrial activity have reduced the amount of natural prairie grassland, and endangered the habitat for this species. How can you help? Find out more about how to conserve this hawk and other endangered species.

There are about 70 species at risk in Alberta (birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, plants and insects – their status varies from Special Concern and Sensitive to At Risk and Endangered. The images below show six endangered species.

  • swift-fox
  • northern-leopard-frog
  • yucca-moth-soapweed-plant
  • short-horned-lizard
  • piping-plover
  • Endangered species include:

    (left to right)

    • Swift Fox
    • Northern Leopard Frog
    • Yucca Moth and Soapweed plant
    • Short-Horned Lizard
    • Piping Plover
  • Seventy-five percent of Alberta’s species at risk are found in the Grassland and Parkland regions and 26% of our grasslands remain in a relatively natural state. Let’s try and keep it that way. If you already have species at risk on your land, you’re already doing something right.

    Conserving habitat that supports species at risk is the primary means to ensure their survival.

    • Learn about how our partners at the Alberta conservation organization MULTISAR (Multiple Species at Risk) are helping producers identify and conserve species-at-risk on their land.
    • Watch our how-to video to learn how to install a hawk pole to encourage predators such as the Ferruginous Hawk to nest on your land, a sustainable way to lower pest populations.
    • Learn how to Install a Solar-Powered Off-Site Watering System and watch our how-to video. Keeping herds away from fresh water sources such as creeks, rivers and dugouts benefits the livestock and the land.
    • Find out how to plan a Riparian Restoration Planting project and watch our how-to video. Riparian areas are important habitats as they provide food and shelter for fish and diverse species of wildlife.


  • natural-regions
The initiative relies on Alberta producers – initially those who farm in the prairie grasslands and then extending to those in other regions. Its goal is to facilitate two-way exchange and best management practices that support conservation while enabling producers to fast-track the completion of an EFP.  Alberta EFP and its trained technicians will provide you with information on simple, low-cost ways to conserve SAR habitat on your land.

Some examples:

  • Protect existing wetlands from being drained or ploughed
  • Maintain a buffer zone of natural vegetation around wetlands
  • Limit the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
  • Limit grazing near riparian areas and wetlands in the spring
  • Provide rest after grazing or patchy grazing to allow grasslands to recover
  • Eliminate alien (non-native plants), e.g. thistle

More best practices can be found in the booklet Home on the Range

The SAR initiative includes both information and assessment tools that will help agricultural producers support SAR and prepare for the emerging market demand for sustainably sourced products.

The project will use several data sources to simplify and speed up the process of completing an EFP. It will also enable producers to know what species at risk may be on their land and whether or not they are endangered.

We are also developing on online tool that will roll into the overall EFP – a self-assessment program that helps you evaluate your land and farming practices to see if they are environmentally sound.

The EFP and its SAR component are developed in collaboration with ag industry groups, conservation associations and all levels of government. These groups will help Alberta EFP identify any potential concerns and recognize early adopters (conservation champions).

For information on completing an EFP, visit www.albertaefp.ca. To register, call 780-612-9712.

The Alberta EFP program is administered by the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta on behalf of the Government of Alberta.

Download the Species at Risk Brochure >