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Wood Turtle Strides

Financial incentives to make farms wood turtle friendly

Wood turtles are a medium-sized turtle that live in aquatic and terrestrial habitat near rivers and streams. There are only 2000-8000 wood turtles left in Nova Scotia and unfortunately, their populations are declining. For this reason, wood turtles are a Species At Risk (SAR) and are listed as ‘Threatened’ provincially and federally. Wood turtles make use of farmland, especially hayfields because their natural habitat is similar in many ways. The pursuit of food like worms and berries can draw wood turtles into the fields. Wood turtles may also find sandy and gravelly areas that are good for nesting and laying their eggs. Unfortunately, farms can be dangerous for wood turtles; when hay is cut, mowers and tractor tires can kill and injure turtles. Nesting sites can also be disturbed by livestock or covered with crops which will result in unsuccessful nests. Implementing Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) can help reduce wood turtle mortality and ensure that they exist in Nova Scotia long into the future. Incentives are available up to $15 000 per farm business to help you implement Beneficial Management Practices. We have tried our best to eliminate red tape and to get you paid faster — up front.


Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Land

Wood Turtle Strides is a Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Land (SARPAL) program. SARPAL is an initiative of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) that has been focused on working with farmers to support Species At Risk and their critical habitat on farms. In Nova Scotia, Wood Turtle Strides is currently administered by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA) to incentivize actions that support wood turtles and their habitats by helping to cover costs associated with the implementation of Beneficial Management Practices. Wood Turtle Strides enrollment is now closed; the NSFA continues to administer agreements already made. 

Conservation Agreements and Implementation Plans

Agreements and plans on your terms. Voluntary and flexible.

Through discussion and compromise, plans were developed that worked for farmers. Conservation Agreements are legal documents between farmers and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture agreeing to a Best Management Practice Implementation Plan for a given time period — usually five years. BMP Implementation Plans never contained anything that is not developed in partnership with farmers. Once signed, funding was provided. To obtain a copy of a sample Conservation Agreement contact Wood Turtle Strides project manager, Trevor Davison at tdavison@nsfa-fane.ca or 902 893-2293.

Am I Eligible?

No further enrollments are possible; below the eligibility criteria are noted for those who did participate.

Own actively farmed land in Nova Scotia, as demonstrated by:

  • a) Own actively farmed land in Nova Scotia, as demonstrated by: membership in the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, or;
  • b) managing property assessed as farm in the provincial tax bill
Have a completed Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), within the last five years
Have valid Premises Identification Number (PID) for a farm property containing, or nearby wood turtle critical habitat as defined by the proposed area in the Wood Turtle Recovery Strategy. To determine whether your property is eligible contact Trevor Davison at tdavison@nsfa-fane.ca or 902 893-2293

How much funding was involved?

Available funds from Wood Turtle Strides were capped at $15 000 per farm business; however, there was no limit to the number of farms that could participate within the enrolment window (now closed). The total amount of funding was limited though. Most agreements last for five years and farmers received incentives for all five years up front in year one. Farmers that wish to withdraw from the agreement are free to do so, however, they will be responsible for paying back a portion of the funds paid equal to the portion remaining in the agreement. Farms are eligible for fixed incentives and cost-sharing from 50% to 100% depending on the beneficial management practice and the conservation priority of your farm.

Steps to participating

Six simple steps were involved for participating farms

1 Contact the project manager to see if properties are eligible. Please include all PID’s that you would like considered for eligibility.
2 Work with the project manager to determine which Beneficial Management Practices (see below) will work for you and your farm. No practices will be forced upon you and participation is voluntary. This may involve a farm visit from the program manager.
3 Develop a Beneficial Management Practice Implementation Plan to establish which incentives and cost-sharing you will be eligible for.
4 Complete Conservation Agreement to set the terms between payer and payee. This is a legal document for the mutual protection of the NSFA and farmers like you.
5 Submit your claim for eligible incentives to the NSFA.
6 Receive project funding up front from NSFA and maintain projects for the length of the agreement — usually five years.

Beneficial Management Practices

See what BMP’s suit your farm and your family

Beneficial Management Practices are great ways to help make your farm more wood turtle friendly. For farmland beside wood turtle critical habitat, financial incentives are available to help farmers start and sustain Beneficial Management Practices that help wood turtles and their habitats. Financial incentives are designed to make BMPs more attractive to farmers and limit the financial impact associated with starting a new practice.

Establishment and expansion of riparian buffer areas

Farmers who establish and sustain riparian buffers were eligible for incentives of up to $185 per hectare ($75/acre) per year to a maximum width of 50m (164 feet). Incentives were available for buffer expansions in 10m increments (e.g. 10m, 20m, 30m...).

Limiting livestock access to streams

Farmers could receive funds as part of a cost-sharing agreement for fencing costs at 75% up to $6.25 per meter of permanent fencing inclusive of all material and labour costs.

Raising mower blades

Farmers that raise mower blades to a height of 150mm (about 6 inches) were eligible for incentive of $30 per hectare for the first cut of hay and $15 per hectare on subsequent cuts. If 150mm was not possible, farmers were encouraged to raise their blades to at least the height of a wood turtle (87mm).

Delaying first cut of hay

Farmers could receive payments of $20 per hectare for delaying the first cut until after July 15th. Additional support was available for feed testing and supplemental feed which may be required to boost protein content and nutrients for pregnant and lactating cows.

Mowing avoidance

Financial incentives of $185 per hectare per year were available for farmers interested in retiring land within wood turtle critical habitat from haying activities.

Land swapping

Land swaps were an important part of Wood Turtle Strides. If swapping land contributed to the implementation of BMP for wood turtles while also supporting continued agricultural production on non-priority lands for wood turtles; that is a win-win. Funds were used to incentivize BMPs as described above for landowners engaging in land swaps.


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Trevor Davison tdavison@nsfa-fane.ca 902 893-2293