Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk: program overview

1. Background

One of the Government of Canada’s conservation mandates is the conservation of nature, including the recovery of species at risk. The Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP), established in 2000, delivers on these results by providing funding for projects submitted by Canadians that contribute directly to the recovery objectives and population goals of species at risk (SAR) listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and that prevent other species from becoming a conservation concern. Project activities must take place on private land, provincial Crown land, lands under the administration and control of the Commissioner of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, or IndigenousFootnote 1  land across Canada.

This document provides general program information and requirements for making an application to the HSP. Applications will be evaluated in the context of the Program’s funding priorities which are outlined on the HSP program website and updated annually.

Regional Coordinators are the primary source of additional information for questions pertaining to information provided in this guideline document, program priorities, and funding options available through the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). More specific questions related to funding amounts, outcome reporting, species data sharing, and project permits, can also be directed to the appropriate Regional HSP Coordinator.

For general information about the terrestrial HSP program, including contact information for Regional HSP Coordinators, please consult the HSP program website or send specific questions to HSP-PIH@ec.gc.ca. Section 13 of this document provides links to online resources referenced in this document and to other sources of information that may be useful.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the administration of aquatic projectsFootnote 2 . Applicants wishing to pursue aquatic HSP projects should contact the appropriate aquatic Regional Coordinator.

2. Program Objectives and Expected Results

Program Objectives

The overall program objectives of HSP are to:

In order to be eligible, proposed projects must demonstrate how they contribute directly to the recovery objectives and population goals of target species. Further, the application must contribute to one or more of the following Conserving Nature Core Responsibility expected results:

Program Expected Results:

3. Eligible Recipients

Canadian non-governmental organizations, Indigenous organizations and communities, individuals, local organizations (such as community associations and groups), private corporations and businesses, educational institutions, as well as provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and provincial Crown corporations are eligible for funding.

If the proposed project is expected to take place on Indigenous land, either entirely or partially, and the applicant is a non-Indigenous organization, individual and/or has no rights to the land (e.g., through a permit, lease and/or as a Certificate of Possession holder), the applicant must provide signed letter(s) of support from the affected Indigenous community.

Federal departments, federal agencies and federal Crown corporations are not eligible to receive HSP funds.  

4. Eligible Species

The following species are eligible for funding under the HSP:

Eligible species include a large number of species. As such, and in order to direct available funds where they are needed most, a sub-group of species has been identified in each region as priorities for funding.

Please consult the HSP program website for additional information on the funding priorities. Funding priorities, including Priority Species, are reviewed and updated annually to ensure they align with the Government of Canada’s priorities. Please note that addressing species at risk listed on Schedule 1 of SARA is the main priority of HSP. As such, a larger proportion of funding will be dedicated to projects targeting the recovery of species listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, and identified as priorities in each region.

For the most up-to-date list of species listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, as well as their recovery strategies, action plans and management plans, please consult the Species at Risk Public Registry. To search for COSEWIC-assessed species and to obtain their respective status reports please visit the COSEWIC website.

5. Eligible Activities

The following activity categories are eligible for funding under the HSP. Applicants must select from the following activity categories in their application. The examples listed below each activity category are eligible options to consider, with a few exceptions. Activities that do not fall under these categories are subject to approval. Please consult with a Regional HSP Coordinator to discuss potential project activities other than those listed below.

Activity Categories

Any proposed outreach or awareness-building activity will need to be framed as a necessary component of a larger project plan unless they are sufficiently targeted and well supported to stand alone. Project applications will need to describe in detail how each outreach activity will lead to action in implementing on-the-ground species recovery and include a plan for measuring the implementation, either within the time frame of the project, or within a defined period afterward.


6. Consolidating Projects and Multi-Year Funding

If an applicant wishes to submit more than one project for HSP funding, they are encouraged to consolidate multiple, small applications on the same target species or in the same area into a single, large application that outlines the different activities.

Multi-year project applications are encouraged because they consider the longer-term conservation outcome and, once approved, offer assurance of funding from one year to the next, provided the Recipients meet all terms, conditions, and other obligations in the Contribution Agreement.

Current Recipients of HSP multi-year funding can apply to receive additional HSP funding to undertake new and additional activities that are within the original scope/objectives  of their current project, by way of an amendment to their existing contribution agreementFootnote 4. Contact a Regional HSP Coordinator for details.

Projects are administered at the regionalFootnote 5 scale. Applicants whose projects cross regional boundaries should identify a primary region based on where the majority of activities will take place. It is strongly recommended that applicants with projects crossing over regional boundaries discuss their project with the primary region’s Regional Coordinator early in the application process.

7. Matching Contributions

Applicants must obtain contributions of non-federal support (cash and/or in-kind) to obtain HSP funds.

8. Project Funding and Eligible Expenses

Project Funding

Funding is variable and dependant on project activities. In an effort to promote collaboration and multi-year projects, the minimum funding request for new and multi-year projects is $25,000.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the potential impact of variable timing of funding decisions on proposed project activities and budgets.

Eligible Expenses

For all eligible expenses, only those deemed to be a reasonable share for completing the project shall be considered eligible.

Eligible expenses may include reasonable and properly itemized costs for:


9. Other Requirements

Non-federal Lands

Funds can only be used for activities on non-federal lands. Activities occurring on federal lands (e.g., National Parks, National Wildlife Areas, Canadian Forces bases) are not eligible; however, First Nation Reserve lands and lands under the administration and control of the Commissioner of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut are considered eligible lands under the HSP.

Impact Assessment Act, 2019

Consult your Regional HSP Coordinator to help you evaluate whether the consideration of the environmental effects of a project may be required under the Impact Assessment Act, 2019.

10. To Apply

See the HSP program website for specific deadlines.

Application Form

To apply to the HSP program, applicants have to register on ECCC’s one window application system for the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS). It is also recommended that you contract your Regional HSP Coordinator to discuss the proposed project to verify that it is aligned with Program priorities and expected results. This process will typically improve the quality of the application, but does not guarantee that the project will receive funding.

Please note that extensions to the application deadline will not be granted due to personal considerations, minor technical malfunctions, or other reasons. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications early as online systems can become slower as the deadline nears due to a high volume of proponents accessing the system.

Due to Government of Canada policy, communication with applicants regarding application status during the project review and selection phase is prohibited until the final departmental approvals have been granted. ECCC will notify all applicants of funding decisions and will do so for each individual application submitted. ECCC aims to send these notifications as early as possible; however, applicants should expect variation in the timing of notifications within a program and between ECCC or other Government of Canada funding programs. Applicants will be notified as soon as funding decisions have been made, and negotiation of Contribution Agreements with successful applicants will follow. The program is unable to reimburse applicants for any expenses incurred prior to the official notification. 

11. How Projects Are Reviewed

As the demand for funding from HSP regularly exceeds the funds available, there is no guarantee that a project will be funded. Every effort will be made to provide applicants with the earliest possible notice once a decision has been made. Applicants are strongly encouraged to work with their Regional HSP Coordinators to ensure projects meet the Program priorities.


Project applications are reviewed based on a range of considerations:

Program objectives

Quality criteria

Application Evaluation Criteria

Eligible applications will be evaluated and prioritized using the following criteria:

Please note: The ability of applicants to complete all reporting and administration requirements under the HSP will be considered during the evaluation. To this end, project evaluators will consider past performance in meeting reporting and administration deadlines for HSP projects and other contribution agreements with ECCC. Inability to meet these reporting requirements may result in disqualification of an applicant for future funding.

A high-quality project is one that:

12. For Accepted Applications

Once confirmation of approval of the project has been received, applicants will be required to submit additional information, including but not limited to the following:

Cash Flow Statement

A detailed cash flow statement of all sources of revenue (including all in-kind contributions) and expenditures that are part of the approved project will be required.

Reporting Obligations

The Contribution Agreement, between the recipient and ECCC, will specify project report deadlines and will include the required forms. Recipients will need to provide regular progress reports, annual reports (for multi-year projects) as well as a final report at the end of the project.

These reports will describe project revenue, expenses, accomplishments and detailed descriptions/quantifications of project outputs and outcomes. Project expected results are basic quantifiable project achievements while project intermediate outcomes include longer-term indicators of effectiveness of project activities in supporting the recovery of species and their habitats.

Project expected results for annual or final project reports could include:

Project intermediate outcomes for annual or final project reports could include:

Outcomes and accomplishments must be reported using the performance indicators identified in the Contribution Agreement. It is important to note that different projects may have different reporting requirements. The Regional HSP Coordinator will advise recipients on specific reporting requirements.

Survey Data Sharing

Recipients will be required to provide species occurrence or habitat data collected in the context of the project to the respective provincial/territorial wildlife data repository centre or to ECCC or Parks Canada, as relevant to your project. Recipients will be asked to confirm in their final report the submission of data.

Intellectual Property Rights

Any Intellectual Property Rights created by the Recipient in association with their obligations and responsibilities under this Agreement shall vest in and remain the property of the Recipient. ECCC shall have no rights to this intellectual property for any purpose without the express written permission of the Recipient.


Recipients will be responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits associated with the project from relevant federal and/or provincial authorities (including those required under SARA, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and any other provincial or territorial wildlife acts that may apply) wherever the project triggers the need for a permit (e.g., it could impact target species).

As permits take time to arrange, Recipients should address this need several months before the project start date to reduce delays once a funding announcement is made (see the SARA registry).

Public Acknowledgement

Recipients are responsible for providing ECCC with final copies of any document or material utilizing the ECCC identifier, wordmark and/or acknowledgement statements prior to printing or distribution, for ECCC approval of the use of said logos and/or acknowledgement statements. The Regional HSP Coordinator will need to be consulted prior to making any communications products such as publications, public information releases, advertising, promotional announcements, activities, speeches, lectures, interviews, ceremonies and websites. All such communications products originating from the project must acknowledge ECCC’s contribution by displaying the ECCC identifier with the public acknowledgement text, along with the ECCC wordmark.

Official Languages

The Official Languages Act (Part VII) requires that the Government of Canada promote both official languages and enhance the vitality of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) across Canada. It is recognized that projects or organizations funded by ECCC through a grants and contributions program may:

Applicants whose project may be delivered in a geographic area with OLMCs or which includes any public events, signage, promotional or other communications may need to consider official language requirements. For example, a project may be required to:

Cost directly related to official language translation required under the Official Languages Act for a project is an eligible cost under the program.

Applicants will be required to complete the Official Language Questionnaire for Funding Applicants (included in the application form) in order to assess the official language requirements that may apply to the project. Applicants should discuss any potential official language requirements and opportunities with their Regional HSP Coordinator.

Note: Overlap with Other Federal Funding Programs

You can only receive funding from one federal funding program for each proposed activity. Any application submitted to other Environment and Climate Change Canada funding programs (e.g., AFSAR,  EcoAction, etc.)  for activities that are different from those submitted in the HSP application. Organizations should review information from other Environment and Climate Change Canada funding programs to determine which program is the best fit for their project.

13. Main links

Please see the following websites for additional information that may be useful for applicants:

For any further questions, please contact us at HSP-PIH@ec.gc.ca or contact a Regional HSP Coordinator. Please note that Regional HSP Coordinators are available to answer questions during regular business hours, local time.

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