Evaluation of the Habitat Conservation Partnerships Program: Findings: relevance

This section summarizes the evaluation findings related to the relevance of ECCC’s involvement in the Habitat Conservation Partnerships (HCP) Program. It does this by exploring the demonstrable need for the program, its alignment with government priorities and its consistency with the roles and responsibilities of the federal government.

Table 3: Ratings for relevance
Relevance criteria Rating
2.1   Continued need for the program Expectations met
2.2   Alignment with federal government priorities Expectations met
2.3   Consistency with federal roles and responsibilities Expectations met

2.1 Continued need for the program

Findings: The need to conserve and protect wildlife habitat in Canada is greater than ever, given numerous stressors such as industrial development and climate change. Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to species. Wetlands require particular attention since they are one of the most biologically productive habitats. They also provide economic and social benefits. The HCP Program addresses the need for habitat conservation through its various components. There was little evidence of duplication among the program components or between HCP Program components and other government programs. However, the evaluation team identified the potential for some overlap with activities under the Habitat Stewardship Program.

Habitat loss, including degradation and fragmentation, is identified as the most important factor driving biodiversity loss. Wetlands, in particular, require attention as they are one of the most biologically productive habitats, supporting a wide range of flora and fauna. Wetlands also provide countless economic and social benefits to humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, to flood control, groundwater recharge and climate change mitigation.

There is a continued need for interventions in the conservation, restoration and enhancement of wildlife habitat to address the potentially negative impacts of factors such as urban sprawl, increasing farm sizes, forestry practices, water drainage and intensive agricultural practices.

There is little evidence of duplication of effort among the various HCP Program components or with other government programs. The majority of interviewees reported that the program components are complementary. All of the HCP Program components contribute to habitat conservation goals, but accomplish this through the use of different mechanisms (discussed further in 4.3 Program delivery).

There is, however, a potential for overlap with the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP), a component of ECCC’s Species at Risk Program. A few external interviewees expressed some confusion related to the similarity of activities funded under the EGP and NACP components of the HCP Program and the HSP with regard to species at risk. They also expressed an interest in greater integration of funding programs. Program representatives acknowledged the similarities, but noted that the HCP Program components and the HSP target different habitats and different actions. A review of program documentation confirms that the programs are similar. However, the HSP supports a broader range of activities or project types and favours stewardship activities as the primary means of achieving program goals. The EGP and NACP components focus more on land securement and protection.

2.2 Alignment with government priorities

Findings:  The HCP Program is aligned with federal government and departmental priorities related to wildlife habitat conservation.

The HCP Program is aligned with federal priorities. In particular, the HCP Program is aligned with the federal objectives for wetland conservation outlined in the 1991 Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation. The objectives of the HCP Program are also aligned with current federal priorities as directed in the Mandate letter of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

The HCP Program is also aligned with the goals and targets set out in the 2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) for sustainably managed lands and forests.

The program aligns with ECCC’s Strategic Outcome 1: Canada’s natural environment is conserved and restored for present and future generations.

2.3 Consistency with federal roles and responsibilities

Findings: ECCC’s involvement in the HCP Program is consistent with the federal and departmental roles and responsibilities related to securing and protecting ecologically sensitive habitat outlined in several Acts. The HCP Program also supports a number of international commitments, including those associated with NAWMP, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention.

ECCC’s involvement in the HCP Program helps the Minister of Environment and Climate Change carry out the responsibilities assigned in a number of Acts, including:

The HCP Program also supports the federal government in addressing a number of international commitments including:

  • North American Waterfowl Management Plan
  • Canada’s international commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, including the 2020 Biodiversity Targets and Goals for Canada
    • Target 1: By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measure
    • Target 3: By 2020, Canada’s wetlands are conserved or enhanced to sustain their ecosystem services through retention, restoration and management activities
  • the Administrative Authority and National Focal Point for Ramsar, supporting Canada’s commitment to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance

Additionally, with respect to the Ecological Gifts Program (EGP), the terms of the Income Tax Act include special provisions for ecological gifts. Landowners who donate land or a partial interest in land to a qualified recipient receive a tax treatment that is superior to most other charitable gifts.

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