Born and raised on a dairy farm in southern Québec, François is a wildlife biologist with over 27 years of experience within governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector on prairie biodiversity conservation and habitat stewardship for species at risk. Starting in 2016, François led the development of the first Habitat and Biodiversity Assessment Tool (HBAT) in Alberta under the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan. He is currently the technical project lead under the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA), supporting the implementation of HBAT in eight other provinces, including British Columbia where he now resides with his wife and two children.

During his presentation, the Habitat and Biodiversity Assessment Tool: Prioritized stewardship opportunities to improve biodiversity conservation and the sustainability of the agricultural operation, François will present on the HBAT, called Biodiv+ in Québec. This online tool was developed as an efficient means to determine what species and habitats are likely to occur on a farm and to prioritize tailored and compatible management practices that help maintain or improve the condition and connectivity of these habitats. While focused on biodiversity, many of the practices also provide innovative ways to enhance the ecological functions of the land, promoting environmental goods and services and improving the agricultural system’s resiliency to droughts, flood and other impacts of climate change.

Designed as an awareness tool for individual farmers, the HBAT is also for agricultural extension advisors and stewardship organizations which work with farmers in the development of sustainable farm management strategies or conservation plans that minimize damage to the ecosystems with little to no impact on productivity and profitability. It also provides a conduit for planners to promote the adoption of proven sustainable farming practices through incentives and or other support. The HBAT is currently being implemented collaboratively in nine provinces under the leadership of the CFGA and with funding through the Canada Nature Fund.