Canada invests to protect more nature in southern Canada

News release

April 23, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario

It’s in our nature to conserve our land and water, protect our wildlife, and save the places we love. But the world’s nature is in decline, with wilderness disappearing at a rapid rate and wildlife populations falling by 60 percent since 1970. That’s why Canada is taking action, including by making the single-largest investment in nature conservation in Canadian history, through Budget 2018, and by aiming to double the amount of protected nature in Canada’s lands and oceans.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Nature Conservancy of Canada will lead the administration and delivery of a new $100 million, four-year national program (pending a final funding agreement) that will help protect more of Canada’s nature.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program will be delivered by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners, including Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and the Canadian Land Trusts Working Committee. The program will assist local, provincial, and national conservation land trusts in securing land from private landowners, as well as in securing private interests (e.g. forest tenures) on land to establish new protected and conserved areas.

The new program will establish at least 200,000 hectares of newly protected land and fresh water, especially in southern Canada, where nature and wildlife face the greatest pressures and where the majority of land is privately owned. The program will also contribute directly to reaching Canada’s goal of doubling the amount of nature protected in our lands and oceans.

For every dollar of federal funding, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its delivery partners will match a minimum of two dollars of funding from non-federal sources, including donations of lands.

The announcement comes as Canada is set to host an international summit with nature champions from around the world, on April 24 to 25, in Montréal, to ramp up collaboration and increase ambition for protecting the world’s nature.


“Nature is our most precious resource. By working together, we can double the amount of nature we’re protecting in our oceans and lands from coast to coast to coast. Today’s investment will help protect nature closer to where Canadians live at the same time as focusing on the parts of Canada that are facing the greatest threats to areas rich in biodiversity.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Natural Heritage Conservation Program will bring Canadians together to take real action to protect our lands, fresh water, and species at risk. We are grateful for the opportunity to lead this program, working alongside our partners to deliver a model of environmental leadership. There has never been a more important time to invest in the natural areas that sustain us all.”
– John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“Many of Canada’s most important natural habitats, including wetlands, are located within its privately held or settled landscapes. In addition to providing critical habitats for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species, these areas deliver essential benefits such as clean water, flood and drought mitigation, and protection from sea-level rise to citizens and communities across the country. Ducks Unlimited Canada looks forward to the ways that the Natural Heritage Conservation Program will deliver more of these benefits to wildlife and all Canadians through new protected areas. It’s a significant investment that will positively impact generations to come.”
– Karla Guyn, Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada

“Wildlife Habitat Canada is excited to be a part of this significant project, which aims to protect and conserve important biodiversity in wildlife and their habitats across the country. We bring 35 years of grant administration experience to this initiative and look forward to helping the land trust community secure critical private lands that will further preserve Canada’s natural heritage.”
– Cameron Mack, Executive Director, Wildlife Habitat Canada

“Your community and local land trusts across Canada look forward to working with the Government of Canada and our partners to expand the protection of private lands to achieve Canada’s Target 1 goals. Canada’s local land trusts are a key partner in conserving Canada’s biodiversity, especially as our natural areas and species are further pressured by climate change. By acquiring natural heritage lands, and by thoughtful stewardship, land trusts can help Canada both adapt to and mitigate climate change. Land trusts can be local solutions to the global problems of biodiversity loss and climate change.”
– Susan Walmer, Co-Chair, Canadian Land Trusts Working Committee

Quick facts

  • In November 2018, the Government of Canada launched a call for proposals for the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. The call sought proposals from organizations to develop, coordinate, and deliver a national program aimed at assisting local, provincial, territorial, and national conservation organizations in securing at least 200,000 hectares of ecologically sensitive private lands and interests in lands in Canada.

  • Private lands are mainly located in southern Canada, where the greatest biodiversity is found. These private lands are where most Canadians reside and where pressures from development are greater.

  • The $500 million Canada Nature Fund, which funds the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, is part of Budget 2018’s Nature Legacy initiative, through which the Government invests $1.3 billion in nature conservation.

  • Globally, Canada has 20 percent of freshwater resources, 24 percent of wetlands, 25 percent of temperate rainforest area, and 33 percent of remaining boreal forest.

  • Canada also has almost one third of all land-based carbon storage: a vital element of action on climate change.

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Sabrina Kim
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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