Protecting nature: Canada’s story
It’s in our nature
Canada is home to a quarter of the Earth’s wetlands, temperate rainforests and boreal forests; 20% of its fresh water; the longest coastline in the world; and precious habitats for birds, fish, and mammals. We have a special responsibility to the world, and we are doing our part.
We are committed to conserving a quarter of our lands and a quarter of our oceans by 2025
We committed to conserving 2,496,168 km2of our land and fresh water and 1,437,500 km2of our oceans by 2025. That will be 3,933,668 km2of protected lands, lakes, and oceans—an area bigger than India! This action is part of the Government of Canada’s commitments to conserving a quarter of Canada’s lands and a quarter of its oceans by 2025 and working toward conserving 30% of each by 2030.
To reach our goals, we are working together with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, cities and towns, foundations, charities, and other partners from coast to coast to coast.
Map of Canada with text “Making progress towards protecting 25% of our lands and oceans by 2025.” and arrow indicating the increase in protected land and oceans divided into three dates:
2015: 1.12 million km2
Today: Almost 2.2 million km2
2025: 3.93 million km2
The data is as of December 2022.
What we are doing
We are working with partners to protect more land and freshwater, and at the same time, recognizing conservation measures already in place across the country. We have a plan to reach our 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 targets—together we can do it.
Map of Canada using different shapes and colours to indicate current protected and conserved areas, areas that are on track for conservation by 2025, other areas of progress and candidate areas for Project Finance for Permanence initiatives.
Map title: Marine and Terrestrial Projects
The map shows:
- ‘Areas on track for 2025’, (represented by a red circle), there are 4 in British Columbia, 3 in offshore Pacific near British Columbia, 1 in Saskatchewan, 2 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, 1 in New Brunswick, 8 in Nova Scotia, 3 in Prince Edward Island, 3 in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2 offshore or coastal Atlantic near Newfoundland and Labrador, 2 in Nunavut, 1 in Arctic marine near Nunavut, and 3 in Northwest Territories
- ‘Areas of Progress’, (represented by a smaller orange circle), there are 12 in British Columbia, 4 in AB, 4 in Saskatchewan, 5 in Manitoba, 7 in Ontario, 16 in Quebec, 9 in New Brunswick, 10 in Nova Scotia, 2 in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2 in Nunavut, 2 in Northwest Territories, and 2 in Yukon
For both the ‘Areas on track for 2025’ and ‘Areas of progress’, the legend has a note that these include “Challenge Fund areas, including indigenous led area based conservation initiatives, National Wildlife Areas (new and expanded), Biosphere Reserve Buffer Zone areas, Parks Canada administered protected areas that are actively being pursued, and marine areas under consideration for conservation”.
- ‘National Urban Parks on track for 2025’, (represented by a dark purple pentagon), there are 1 in British Columbia, 1 in AB, 1 in Saskatchewan, 1 in Ontario, and 1 in Nova Scotia
- ‘National Urban Parks areas of progress’, (represented by a light purple pentagon), there are 1 in Manitoba and 1 in Quebec
- ‘Established National Urban Parks’ (represented by a dark green pentagon) there is 1 in Ontario
There are 4 Candidate Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiatives as submitted by proponents, represented by a beige shape with orange dashed boundaries, for Northern Shelf Marine PFP, Northwest Territories PFP, Qikiqtani PFP, and Omushkego PFP.
The map shows all current protected and conserved area pentagon split out by terrestrial in green and marine in blue. Size and locations can be found on the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.
Canada’s conservation network is diverse and vast, and we are continuing to expand it by:
- continuing to establish new federal protected areas on lands and oceans
- negotiating Nature Agreements with provincial and territorial governments to advance shared conservation goals
- supporting Indigenous-led nature conservation
- funding programs to protect land and water in communities across the country, like
- the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP)
- the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge
- the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP)
- the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk
- the Community-Nominated Priority Places (CNPP) for Species at Risk
- The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP)
- applying innovative financing models to support Indigenous-led partnerships in conservation
- recognizing lands that are managed in ways that achieve the conservation of biodiversity as Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECM)
- connecting partners to do more for nature through the Conservation Exchange Pilot
- supporting land owners who want to protect private lands through the Ecological Gifts Program (EGP)
- supporting Indigenous rights and responsibilities in protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous Guardians
- protecting sensitive habitats and improving conditions for 230 species at risk
- supporting biosphere reserves to help increase biodiversity conservation efforts across the country
What we have done
So far, more than 2 million km2 of our lands and oceans are already protected or conserved—an area that is bigger than the size of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador combined. Over the past several years, we have increased this number by creating and supporting new federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous protected areas, as well as areas protected by land trusts and communities.
We’re adding new protected and other conserved areas:
- Prairie Pastures (Govenlock, Nashlyn, and Battle Creek) land transfer in southwestern Saskatchewan covers an area of 800 km2 and is an excellent example of how governments, ranchers, and conservation groups can work together to protect iconic Canadian biodiversity, including 12 species at risk
- Edéhzhíe Indigenous Protected Area, the first Indigenous protected area established under the Canada Nature Fund
- Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area, one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Canada’s Pacific coast, attracting millions of migratory birds each year
- Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area off the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, in the Arctic Ocean, established in collaboration with the Inuit and Government of Nunavut to conserve and protect the diversity and productivity of the High Arctic sea-ice ecosystem
- St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area off the coast of Nova Scotia, a habitat for more than 100 species
- Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland, an Alberta-led protected area created and managed though collaboration with local Indigenous groups, the community, and industry and supported by the Canada Nature Fund
- Kenauk protected area, a unique and exceptional wetland and forest area and home to more than 170 species, protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada
Protected and conserved areas
NEW - Learn more about the types and locations of protected and conserved areas in the Canadian network. The Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database is now available on the Open Data portal. Did you know:
- There are more than 1,800 privately protected areas across the country (accounting for over 7,000 km2)
- There are 59 marine OECMs (over 318,000 km2) and 210 terrestrial OECMs (almost 91,000 km2) in Canada
- 3 Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas are listed in the national database, including:
- Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta Territorial Protected Area (over 10,000 km2)
- Thaidene Nëné Territorial Protected Area (over 9,000 km2)
- Edéhzhíe Protected Area (over 14,000 km2)
Understanding critical habitat is an important step in halting and reversing biodiversity loss and prioritizing conservation for species at risk in Canada. Now you can view critical habitat for over 250 species at risk in one interactive map on the Open Data portal.
How you can help
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