Overview of the Pan-Canadian approach to transforming species at risk conservation in Canada


The federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, agreed to the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation in CanadaFootnote 1 (Pan-Canadian Approach) in 2018. This approach shifts from a single-species approach to conservation to one that focuses on multiple species and ecosystems. We are concentrating our conservation efforts on priority places, species, sectors and threats across Canada. This enables conservation partners to work together to achieve better outcomes for species at risk.

Important principles guide collaborative work under the Pan-Canadian Approach:

We identify priorities using defined criteria, followed by:

The results and benefits of action under the Pan-Canadian Approach are:

The federal government is committed to engaging with Indigenous Peoples and other partners and stakeholders on priority initiatives. We are also working closely with them to help shape and test tools to implement the Species at Risk Act (SARA), and to identify new priorities for future action. The Pan-Canadian Approach will also seek to renew relationships and strengthen collaboration between our governments and Indigenous Peoples.

Priority places

A priority place is an area of high biodiversity value that is seen as a distinct place with a common ecological theme by the people who live and work there.

There are now 11 priority places identified under the Pan-Canadian Approach. The places selected have significant biodiversity, concentrations of species at risk, and opportunities to advance conservation efforts.

In each priority place, the federal and provincial or territorial governments are working with Indigenous Peoples and other partners and stakeholders to develop integrated conservation implementation plans. Using a defined planning approach (such as the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation), these implementation plans identify key actions to address the greatest threats to species. Plans will be adjusted as necessary as we assess the effectiveness of our actions. Within the priority places, the conservation implementation plans are funded by multiple government and non-government partners and stakeholders, including contributions under the Canada Nature Fund.

Conservation implementation plans provide the foundation for collaborative action on-the-ground. They are informed by science, research and Indigenous knowledge and supported by:

These foundational activities allow partners to work together on-the-ground and co-invest in shared priority actions, such as:

To learn more about the Priority Places initiative and the work undertaken by our partners to recover species at risk within these priority places, please visit our interactive website.

Map of community-nominated priority places for species at risk

*Note: Boundaries for Long Point Walsingham Forest may be extended in the future.

Long description

This map shows the locations of 11 priority places across Canada. These priority places are numbered sequentially across the country from east to west:

  • #1 is Kespukwitk / Southwest Nova Scotia in Nova Scotia
  • #2 is Wolastoq / Saint John River in New Brunswick
  • #3 is Forested Landscape in Prince Edward Island
  • #4 is the St Lawrence Lowlands of Quebec
  • #5 is Long Point Walsingham Forest in Ontario
  • #6 is Mixed Grass Prairie in Manitoba
  • #7 is South of the Divide in Saskatchewan
  • #8 is Summit to Sage in Alberta
  • #9 is the Dry Interior British Columbia
  • #10 is Southwest British Columbia
  • #11 is South Beringia in the Yukon

Four inset maps show groupings of seven of the priority places at a larger scale.

Although not part of the Pan-Canadian Approach, these Priority Places are complemented by a suite of Community-Nominated Priority Places (CNPP). This multi-year application-based funding initiative supports collaborative multi-partner projects for species at risk. Through two calls for applications, ECCC funded 18 projects in areas of high biodiversity that have the potential to benefit a large number of species at risk.

Long description

This map shows the locations of 15 Community-Nominated Priority Places across Canada. These priority places are numbered sequentially across the country from east to west:

  1. is Cape Freels in Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. is Long Range Biodiversity in Newfoundland and Labrador
  3. is Maliamu’kik msit ko’kmanaq / Taking care of all our relations in Nova Scotia
  4. is Magdalen Islands in Quebec
  5. is North Shore Prince Edward Island in Prince Edward Island
  6. is Sikniktewaq / Chignecto Isthmus in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  7. is Wele’k Pemjajika’q Siknikt / Healthy Coasts New Brunswick in New Brunswick
  8. is Northern Green Mountains in Quebec
  9. is The Land Between in Ontario
  10. is Maamwi Anjiakiziwin in Ontario
  11. is Tall Grass Prairie in Manitoba
  12. is Greater Redberry Lake in Saskatchewan
  13. is Sand Hills in Saskatchewan
  14. is Southern Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia
  15. is Kootenay Connect in British Columbia
  16. is Southern Lakes in Yukon and British Columbia
  17. is Tlicho Wetlands in Northwest Territories
  18. is Southern Aviqtuuq in Nunavut

Four inset maps show groupings of ten of the Community-Nominated Priority Places at a larger scale.

Priority species

There are currently six federal, provincial and territorial shared priority species identified. Please see the below links to learn more about the biology and threats facing each:

The priority species have special meaning to many Canadians, and most have cultural significance for Indigenous Peoples. Delivering conservation outcomes for targeted priority species can have significant co-benefits for other species at risk, wildlife in general, and related biodiversity values.

Collaborative, multi-jurisdictional protection and recovery actions are already underway for each of the priority species, such as:

To learn more about the Priority Species initiative and what we are doing to conserve the six priority species in Canada, please visit our interactive website

Long description

This map shows the distribution of six priority species in Canada. These priority species are (in alphabetical order):

  • Barren-ground caribou (including the Dolphin and Union population)
  • Caribou, boreal population (“boreal caribou”)
  • Greater sage-grouse
  • Peary caribou
  • Woodland caribou, southern mountain caribou (“southern mountain caribou”)
  • Wood bison

Priority sectors and threats

This approach to species at risk involves collaborative action with partners and stakeholders to implement mitigation measures and to identify opportunities to improve conservation outcomes for species at risk. Key sectors identified under the Pan-Canadian Approach include agriculture, forestry, and urban development.  Key threats include invasive alien species, wildlife disease, and illegal wildlife trade.

Collaborative activities with sector partners may include:

Priority threat-based mitigation initiatives seek to reduce risks from invasive alien species, wildlife disease, and illegal wildlife trade.  Activities may include:

Investing in partnership, action and outcomes

Budget 2018 invested more than $1.3 billion in new protected areas and species at risk conservation initiatives through the Canada Nature Fund. Budget 2021 builds upon this historic investment through $2.3 billion in new funding to protect 25% of Canada’s lands and freshwater by 2025, strengthen protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats, and advance reconciliation through Indigenous leadership in conservation. The Canada Nature Fund supports the protection of Canada’s biodiversity, including implementation of the Pan-Canadian Approach to support actions for priority places, species and sectors.

Page details

Date modified: