The Government of Canada to protect more ecologically sensitive land by boosting the Natural Heritage Conservation Program
December 13, 2022 – Montréal, Quebec
Conserving and restoring nature is vital to the health and well-being of Canadians, to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, and to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas plays a vital role in restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that the Government of Canada is investing up to $90 million over three years to extend the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP). This investment will secure an additional 180,000 hectares of ecologically-sensitive land and establish new protected and conserved areas across the country.
This additional investment to the Natural Heritage Conservation Program will be managed through agreements with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Wildlife Habitat Canada, on behalf of local and regional land trusts across the country. For every dollar of federal funding, the program will match a minimum of $1.50 from non-federal sources, including in-kind matching, such as land donations from private landowners and corporations. Today’s announcement leverages at least $225 million in total funding to further pursue Canada’s goal of protecting 30 percent of land and water by 2030.
A prime example of this came earlier this year when the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in collaboration with forestry company Domtar and supporters from around the world, rallied to protect globally significant forest and wetlands. Together they landed the largest private land conservation agreement in Canadian history to conserve more than 1,500 square kilometres (twice the size of Toronto). This included 100 lakes and 1,300 kilometres of rivers, streams and shoreline, known as the Hearst Forest in Northern Ontario.
Since 2007, Canadian land trusts have conserved more than 700,000 hectares—an area bigger than the province of Prince Edward Island. This ecologically-sensitive land includes grasslands, forests, lakes, and wetlands. It is in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, partners, and Indigenous peoples that the Government of Canada can work toward halting and reversing nature loss by 2030 and to achieve a full recovery for nature by 2050.
Canada is currently welcoming the world to Montréal 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, and the Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a flagship example.
“Achieving Canada’s 30 percent by 2030 conservation target will require the combined efforts of our federal government, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, business leaders, land trusts, and more. By working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Wildlife Habitat Canada, we are helping to protect the natural environment across the country. Protecting land plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and contributes to the recovery of species at risk.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The NHCP is world-class. It’s a made-in-Canada response to a global challenge, and it bolsters our ability to deliver impactful nature conservation across the country. We are energized by the collaboration with government and partners to conserve more priority areas, faster. The NHCP encourages us all to accelerate the pace of conservation for the sake of nature and people. It is a model that allows every Canadian to take tangible action to protect and care for our land and water. Along with our network of donors and supporters, the NCC is ready to meet the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change head-on, because when nature thrives, we all thrive.”
– Catherine Grenier, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“Ducks Unlimited Canada is thrilled to see this renewed commitment toward conserving natural landscapes, addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and recovering species at risk through an extension of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. We are proud to partner with the federal government on this program and work with Indigenous communities, local and provincial governments, other agencies, and private landowners in its delivery. This important program will benefit all Canadians, because when nature thrives, we thrive with it.”
– Brian Gray, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited Canada
“Wildlife Habitat Canada is pleased to support the continuation of the NHCP and will work with Canadian land trusts to secure ecologically-sensitive land, ensuring protection of ecosystems, wildlife, and habitat. Conservation of private land through the NHCP will enhance Canada’s efforts to maintain biodiversity and mitigate climate change impacts.”
– Cameron Mack, Executive Director, Wildlife Habitat Canada
“Through this fund, community-based land trusts from coast to coast will grow Canada's permanently protected natural areas toward Canada's target of 30 percent by 2030 and safeguard an increasing expanse of critical habitats for species at risk, including critical corridors for species movement.”
– Renata Woodward, Executive Director, Alliance of Canadian Land Trusts
Budget 2021 saw a historic investment of $2.3 billion over five years in nature conservation, which included an additional $90 million in contribution funding over three years (2023–24 to 2025–26) for the extension of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.
As part of Budget 2018’s Nature Legacy initiative, the Government of Canada invested $100 million over four years in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program to secure 200,000 hectares of ecologically-sensitive lands.
The Government of Canada also works with national, local, and regional land trusts on programs such as the Ecological Gifts Program to provide tax incentives to Canadians who donate ecologically-sensitive land.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
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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