K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) has contributed almost $1 million to Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in an agreement ensuring native grasslands impacted by the Legacy mine project will be offset through the purchase and preservation of high value native grassland elsewhere in Saskatchewan. The agreement, based on a novel science-based formula developed by the Government of Saskatchewan working collaboratively with NCC and KSPC, is the largest-known industry investment in a grassland habitat offset in provincial history. The method and formula used to calculate the offset has already been used as a template by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment and other industries in the province and adapted to other habitat types.
“Compensation is not a new concept in habitat mitigation but determining what’s appropriate had not been standardized,” says Erin Robertson, Environment Manager of KSPC. “This new approach uses a system of scientifically informed “debits” and “credits” to estimate the ecological value of habitats and ensures unavoidable impacts are off-set appropriately.”
Under the new formula, the 194 hectares of grasslands affected by the Legacy mine site, wellfield and rail line will be off-set by conserving an estimated 402 hectares of high-value grassland.
Eric Cline, KSPC Vice President of Land and Sustainable Development, says the agreement satisfies a Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (MOE) condition of approval for KSPC’s Environmental Impact Statement and does so through a credible third party. “It’s an advantage to have Nature Conservancy of Canada do this because their interest is to maximize the amount of grassland in Saskatchewan,” says Cline. “It’s good from the point of view of our company because it meets our commitment and it also assures the public, through the Ministry of the Environment, that it’s done in a scientific way.”
KSPC is expected to announce a related agreement on wetlands offsets in June.