Ecological gifts: eligible recipients

Landowners can donate gifts of ecologically sensitive land to environmental charities approved by the federal Minister of the Environment, as well as to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Collectively, these organizations are called recipients.

There are currently more than 150 eligible recipients across Canada, including land trusts and nature conservation groups. In order to be eligible to receive an ecological gift donation, an environmental charity must:

  • have registered charity status with the Canada Revenue Agency and maintain this status from year to year;
  • have as one of its primary purposes “the conservation and protection of Canada’s environmental heritage” or some similar statement of purpose acceptable to the federal Minister of the Environment; and,
  • apply to Environment Canada for eligibility.
  • Environment Canada continually updates the list of eligible environmental charities across Canada. Once eligible, environmental charities are approved in the context of each proposed ecological gift. Under some circumstances (e.g. failure to maintain charitable status), charities may be removed from the list of eligible recipients.

Recipient responsibilities

Recipients of ecological gifts are responsible for maintaining the biodiversity and environmental heritage values of the property in perpetuity. They may also help in other ways - such as by providing an initial assessment of the property's ecological sensitivity, arranging for an appraisal of the ecological gift’s fair market value, and coordinating the necessary applications.

As a disincentive to unauthorized alterations to properties donated under the Program, a federal tax equal to 50 per cent of the current fair market value of the land may be imposed on charitable and municipal recipients for land-use changes (even those perceived as beneficial) and dispositions made without prior written authorization from the Minister of the Environment or a delegated certification authority. In some cases, this tax would also be triggered if a recipient wished to keep only the ecologically sensitive portions of a donated property and sell the remainder.

Land transfers or changes in use that are consistent with the original objectives of the ecological gift are likely to be authorized. Examples might include wanting to transfer ownership of a donated property to another conservation organization that is eligible to receive ecological gifts or to undertake a change in land use that would enhance or restore the conservation value of the property.

To seek authorization, recipients should write to the Ecological Gifts Program office in their region in advance of making any dispositions or changes in land use. Tax-related questions should be directed to the Canada Revenue Agency, which is responsible for implementing these provisions under the Income Tax Act. See the Program's fact sheet Disposition or Change in Use of Ecological Gifts for more information.

How a charity becomes eligible

To apply for eligibility, a registered charity must send a request in writing to:
National Secretariat, Ecological Gifts Program
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: (800) 668-6767
Fax: (819) 994-4445

The application package must include:

  • full contact details (business address, email address, fax and phone numbers);
  • an explanation of the mission of the organization and some examples of the types of projects it undertakes;
  • the organization’s Charitable Registration Number and a complete certified copy of the organization’s Letters Patent, incorporation papers or other governing documents that include the full statement of objects or purpose;
  • an expression of the organization’s willingness and demonstration of its financial and human resource capacity to receive and manage ecological gifts;
  • a demonstration that the organization has adopted, or a board resolution that the organization has made a commitment to work towards, adopting a recognized national or provincial set of ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust to guide the organization’s land securement and management practices; and
  • a dissolution or winding-up clause that is compatible with the requirements of the EGP.

A response from the National Secretariat can be expected within six weeks. If the request is urgent, include that information in the cover letter and the assessment process may be expedited.

A charity that is interested in receiving an ecological gift in Quebec also has to comply with the criteria of the ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs.

Eligible environmental charities

British Columbia
  • Ducks Unlimited Saskatchewan
    PO Box 4465
    1030 Winnipeg St
    Regina Sk  S4R 8P8
    Telephone: (306) 569-0424
    Fax: (306) 565-3699
  • Meewasin Valley Authority
    402 Third Avenue South
    Saskatoon Sk  S7K 3G5
    Telephone: (306) 665-6887
    Fax: (306) 665-6117
  • The Nature Conservancy of Canada - Saskatchewan
    100-1777 Victoria Avenue
    Regina Sk  S4P 4K5
    Telephone: (306) 347-0447 or 1-866-622-7275
    Fax: (306) 347-2345
  • Nature Saskatchewan
    206-1860 Lorne Street
    Regina Sk  S4P 2L7
    Telephone: (306) 780-9273 or 1-800-667-4668 in Saskatchewan
    Fax: (306) 780-9263
  • Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (SWSA)
    111 Fairford Street East
    Moose Jaw Sk  S6H 7X9
    Telephone: (306) 694-3900
    Fax: (306) 694-3465
    Note: The SWSA is not an environmental charity. The SWSA is a provincial Crown corporation. Donations to this agency are considered gifts to the Crown and as such the Corporation issues tax-deductible receipts. It can also be of assistance in working with donors regarding land donations to other organizations in Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
    9 Lancaster Rd
    Moose Jaw Sk  S6J 1M8
    Telephone: (306) 692-8812 or 1-877-793-9453
    Fax: (306) 692-4370
  • Cooks Creek Conservation District
    66-156 Pineridge Road - Box 11, Grp, 561 BR #5
    Winnipeg MB  R2C 2Z2
    Telephone: (204) 777-2223
    Fax: (204) 777-0570
  • Ducks Unlimited Canada - Manitoba
    2-545 Conservation Drive
    Brandon MB  R7A 7L8
    Telephone: (204) 729-3500
    Fax: (204) 727-6044
  • Fort Whyte Alive
    1961 McCreary Rd
    Winnipeg MB  R3P 2K9
    Telephone: (204) 989-8355
    Fax: (204) 895-4700
  • Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC)
    200-1555 St. James Avenue
    Winnipeg MB  R3H 1B5
    Telephone: (204) 784-4350
    Fax: (204) 784-4359
    Note: The MHHC is not an environmental charity. The MHHC is a provincial Crown corporation. Donations to this agency are considered gifts to the Crown and as such the Corporation issues tax-deductible receipts. It can also be of assistance in working with donors regarding land donations to other organizations in Manitoba.
  • The Nature Conservancy of Canada -Manitoba
    200-611 Corydon Ave
    Winnipeg MB R3L 0P3
    Telephone: (204) 942-6156 or 1-866-683-6934
    Fax: (204) 942-1016
Northwest Territories and Nunavut
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
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