Enhanced Nature Legacy
Key findings from the strategic environmental assessment conducted for the Enhanced Nature Legacy – Funding to Conserve Canada’s Lands and Freshwater, Protect Species, Advance Indigenous Reconciliation and Increase Access to Nature.
This Government of Canada’s initiative responds to the global biodiversity crisis, threats to Canada’s ecosystem and wildlife and pressures for sustainable recovery and well-being of Canadians, by:
- protecting 25% of Canada’s lands and freshwater by 2025
- strengthening protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats
- advancing reconciliation through Indigenous leadership in conservation
- supporting healthy natural infrastructure and increased access to nature
The integrated approach entails federal leadership in protected areas and leveraging of partnerships with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, the private sector, NGOs, and municipalities.
The 2021 Budget provided funding in support of this initiative:
- $2.3 billion over five years, starting in 2021‒22, with $100.5 million in remaining amortization, to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to:
- conserve up to 1 million square kilometers (km2) additional land and inland waters to achieve Canada’s target of 25% protected area by 2025, including through National Wildlife Areas (NWAs), and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)
- create thousands of jobs in nature conservation and management
- accelerate new provincial and territorial (P/T) protected areas
- support Indigenous Guardians
- take action to prevent priority species at imminent risk of disappearing, including through partnerships with Indigenous peoples
- $200 million over three years, starting in 2021‒22, to Infrastructure Canada to establish a Natural Infrastructure Fund to support natural and hybrid infrastructure projects. This would help to improve well-being, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and prevent costly natural events.
This initiative will also contribute to protect 25% of Canada’s land and inland waters by 2025 and advance the protection and recovery of species at risk. This initiative has strong positive effects on the environment. While Canada possesses abundant wetlands, forests, wildlife, freshwater, and marine and coastal areas, they are in serious decline.
A well-connected network of protected and conserved areas is key to preserving intact ecosystems that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services. This initiative introduces the creation of an Urban Park network that will have a positive influence on urban and peri-urban environments through supporting biodiversity protection and providing ecosystem services. In addition, by providing provinces and territories, Indigenous groups and other partners the opportunity to collaborate with on-the-ground and in-the-water stewardship actions, including the retrieval of lost and abandoned fishing gear, strides will be made on the recovery and protection of aquatic species at risk. This positive impact on the environment also is expected to have an impact on the health and well-being of Canadians.
Through the Natural Infrastructure Fund, investments will be made in communities in natural and hybrid infrastructure projects, such as planting and restoring urban greenspace (e.g., urban forests, parks, green roofs), wetland restoration, shoreline reconstruction, naturalized stormwater ponds and dykes, and wildlife crossings.
Funded projects are expected to:
- build resilience to threats associated with climate change, such as urban flooding, extreme heat, and coastal erosion
- improve environmental and water quality, foster carbon sequestration, and contribute to ecological integrity and connectivity with benefits for the protection of biodiversity and habitat at a lower cost
- increase community access to nature by creating public greenspaces and other outdoor areas for recreation
In term of expected impacts on GHG emissions, establishing new protected areas could help maintain existing carbon sinks so that they keep sequestering carbon. In addition, this initiative will support the improved management and restoration of conservation lands, which will also contribute to GHG capture and storage.
This initiative will contribute to the following goals of the 2019-2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy:
Sustainably managed lands and forests; Pristine lakes and rivers; and Healthy coasts and oceans
The initiative will conserve habitat and species, and natural ecological services for health, well-being and resiliency from environmental events. Protecting natural amenities benefits human health by, for example, keeping water clean, absorbing harmful chemicals and generating oxygen. This initiative will also maintain or improve ecological integrity in national park ecosystems, conserve habitat and species within Parks Canada Agency administered lands, connect protected areas through ecological corridors, create urban parks and natural ecological services for health, well-being and resiliency from environmental events.
Healthy wildlife populations
Protecting habitats will help protect wildlife against the potentially damaging and isolating effects of human population growth and landscape development. This initiative will advance the protection and recovery of up to 350 terrestrial and aquatic species at risk through addressing key priority species, protecting critical habitat, including priority places, and through supporting Indigenous partnerships. Multi-species and ecosystem-based approaches for species’ protection and recovery will be advanced through collaboration with provinces and territories and Indigenous peoples.
Connecting Canadians with nature
Spending time in nature can improve physical and mental health especially during the COVID-19 crisis, and mitigate the “nature deficit disorder” that occurs when people disconnect from their natural surroundings. Through this initiative, Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada will preserve nature for recreation and tourism. With the leadership of Parks Canada in the creation of an urban park network, the initiative will provide Canadians with better access to nature and Canadian heritage, fostering enthusiasm for Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. Environment and Climate Change Canada will enhance the existing Connecting Canadians to Nature initiative through public education programs and the promotion of existing National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries near urban areas. In addition, funding will support Indigenous leadership in conservation and stewardship, recognizing and supporting Indigenous peoples’ role as stewards of the land. This will contribute to reconciliation and further conservation goals, as Indigenous knowledge and expertise is a valuable input to strategies that protect and conserve ecosystems, landscapes and biodiversity.
Effective action on climate change
Through the protection and conservation of ecosystems, this initiative will contribute to climate change adaptation, and it will help secure natural carbon sinks, avoiding carbon emissions that would be caused by land disturbance for development. Providing natural infrastructure to buffer flooding and other disturbances will help with climate change resilience and adaptation.
Modern, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure
Through supporting the use of natural infrastructure, this initiative will support delivery of climate resilient infrastructure services grounded in nature-based approaches. These services would include benefits for management of storm water, potable water and wastewater, mitigation of coastal/riparian erosion that buffer against impacts of a changing climate, and reduce impacts of natural hazards within communities. In doing so, the initiative protects the natural environment, supports healthy, resilient communities, economic growth, and improves our quality of life.
The initiative also directly contributes to the following United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): SDG#13 – Climate Action, SDG #14 – Life below Water, as well as SDG #15 – Life on Land.
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