The Natural Heritage Conservation Program


In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada made a historic investment of $1.3 billion in nature conservation, known as the Nature Legacy—the single-largest investment in nature conservation in Canadian history. The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is part of the Nature Legacy initiative.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a national program that will establish new protected and conserved areas by working with delivery partners across Canada to secure private lands and private interests in lands. The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over four years in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2023) as part of Budget 2018’s Nature Legacy initiative.

In November 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada launched a call for proposals for the development and implementation of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. Eligible applicants included land-conservation organizations, such as national and local land trusts and national and provincial land-trust alliances. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has approved the proposal submitted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and many regional and local land trusts represented by the Canadian Land Trusts Working Committee.

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 in kind match such as donations of lands. With this matching funding, the Natural Heritage Conservation Program is valued at more than $300 million.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program focuses on two objectives. First, the program must contribute at least 200,000 hectares to the terrestrial element of Target 1 of Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets. Target 1 aims to conserve at least 17 percent of land and fresh water and 10 percent of marine and coastal areas in Canada, by 2020. The program must also contribute to the protection of habitat for the recovery of species listed under the Species at Risk Act. This goal will be accomplished through the securement of ecologically sensitive lands, ensuring the protection of ecosystems, wildlife, and habitat by expanding corridors to various spaces, including national parks, national wildlife areas, and migratory bird sanctuaries.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program replaces the Natural Areas Conservation Program, which ended on March 31, 2019. Since 2007, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and other land trusts have conserved more than 450,000 hectares of land as part of the Natural Areas Conservation Program. This land includes grasslands, forests, lakes, and wetlands, which act as habitat for more than 210 species assessed as being at risk, by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

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