Minister Guilbeault announces more than $926,000 for the Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound Biosphere Region to protect nature and help meet Canada’s conservation goals

News release

September 1, 2022 – Lions Bay, British Columbia

Canadians depend on nature for clean water to drink and air to breathe, food to eat, and quality spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Conserving nature is vital to protect species at risk, combat climate change, and build a strong, sustainable economy.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, alongside Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country, announced an investment of more than $926,000 over four years to increase biodiversity conservation efforts in the Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound Biosphere Region.

The funding, from Canada’s Enhanced Nature Legacy program, will support management and biodiversity conservation activities in the biosphere region, which is abundant with nature and wildlife, including rare and fragile glass sponge reefs, and home to the rich culture of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and other Coast Salish peoples. It encompasses more than 200,000 hectares of land and sea and is home to at least 39 species listed under the Species at Risk Act.

In collaboration with conservation partners, including local First Nations groups, the funding will be used to help increase local understanding of biodiversity, of other effective conservation measures, and of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. It will also be used to identify and prioritize areas with high biodiversity for protection, and to support projects within the target areas for habitat restoration, wildlife connectivity, and monitoring of species at risk.

Over the next four years, it is anticipated that more protected and conserved areas within the biosphere region will count toward Canada’s target of protecting 25 percent of lands and waters in the country by 2025, working toward 30 percent by 2030.

The Government of Canada’s work to protect more nature comes as it prepares to welcome the world to Montréal in December 2022 for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). COP15 presents an opportunity for Canada to show its leadership along with international partners in taking actions to conserve nature and halt biological diversity loss around the world, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, the original guardians of the land. UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves such as the Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound Biosphere Region are vital contributions.


“UNESCO biosphere reserves are an internationally recognized model for bringing communities together to connect with and protect nature. The biosphere region in Howe Sound is a natural fit for increased conservation areas, since it is rich in diverse species and wildlife, and important to local communities. By investing in this biosphere region, we are protecting natural spaces that are valued by communities, while also contributing to our national conservation goal of protecting 30 percent of lands and inland waters by 2030.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Today’s announcement is an example of the great things that can happen when the community comes together to support the environment. Biosphere reserves represent a deep dedication to sustainable development and nature conservation, and they set a standard for how people and nature can thrive together.”

– Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country

“This funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada demonstrates a pivotal chapter in the history of the network and of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association. To use the words from the biosphere reserves themselves, this is a chance to renew partnerships, enhance capacity within the organization, and create more biodiversity outcomes in Canada’s nineteen UNESCO biospheres.”

– Kate Potter, Executive Director, Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association

“This federal funding is evidence of the value of the organizations managing Canada’s UNESCO biosphere regions. There are 175 species within our biosphere that are considered to be threatened or endangered, with biodiversity and habitat loss at the heart of the issue. This funding significantly boosts our capacity to support important regional projects that restore, maintain, and enhance biodiversity conservation in the areas that need it most.”

– Ruth Simons, Executive Director, Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society

“Átl’ka7tsem is really about beauty and hope, as much as it is about sustainable development and conservation. This biosphere region continues to bring all communities in Átl’ka7tsem together for effective decision making and also gets people out on the Land. Building that connection to the territory and the Land inspires us all to better honour and respect the environment, and also the Life that lives here.” 

– Joyce Williams, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Councillor and Co-Chair of Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society Board

Quick facts

  • Biodiversity encompasses the interconnection between all living things, including human beings, and their relationships with each other.

  • Biosphere reserves, which are internationally recognized by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, bring people together with nature in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. They support the conservation of biodiversity and encourage people to learn about and take stewardship actions for sustainable development.

  • Each biosphere reserve in Canada has a variety of funding sources, including federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government grants and donations from private foundations and individuals.

  • There are currently 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries that are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. There are about 257 million people living in biosphere reserves worldwide. In Canada, over 2.5 million people live in biosphere reserves.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to working to halt and reverse nature loss in the country by 2030 and to achieve a full recovery for nature by 2050.

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Kaitlin Power
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)

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