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


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

Important principles guide collaborative work under the pan-Canadian approach:

  • shared priorities and leadership
  • Indigenous engagement
  • strengthened evidence-base for decision making
  • aligned investments

We identify priorities using defined criteria, followed by:

  • cooperative action planning
  • investment and implementation of actions
  • monitoring and reporting of results

The results and benefits of action under the pan-Canadian approach are:

  • better conservation outcomes for more species at risk
  • improved return on investment
  • increased co-benefits for biodiversity and ecosystems

The federal government is committed to engaging with Indigenous Peoples and other partners and stakeholders on priority initiatives. We will also work 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. These 11 priority places will be complemented by a suite of Community-Nominated Priority Places (CNPP), to be identified through an open call for applications.

In each priority place, the federal and provincial or territorial governments will work with Indigenous Peoples and other partners and stakeholders to develop conservation action plans. Using a defined planning approach (such as the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation), these action plans will 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 action plans will be funded by multiple government and non-government partners and stakeholders, including contributions under the Canada Nature Fund.

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

  • dedicated partner and stakeholder engagement in planning and delivery
  • strong governance to ensure everyone’s efforts are aligned
  • enhanced data and information management to strengthen decision making

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

  • habitat stewardship
  • habitat restoration
  • education and outreach
  • other essential actions
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 federal-provincial-territorial priority places across Canada. These priority places are numbered sequentially across the country from east to west:

  • #1 is Kespukwitk / south west Nova Scotia in Nova Scotia
  • #2 is Wolastoq / St 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 of British Columbia
  • #10 is south west British Columbia
  • #11 is south Beringia in the Yukon

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

Priority species

The pan-Canadian approach will also focus conservation efforts on priority species. Six federal, provincial and territorial shared priority species have been identified so far:

All of these species have special meaning for Indigenous Peoples and most Canadians. 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 action is already underway for Boreal Caribou and Southern Mountain Caribou as well as for the other four priority species identified.

Partners and stakeholders will work together to identify additional priority species in the future.

Priority sectors and threats

This approach to species at risk requires 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:

  • engagement, consultation and outreach
  • integrating species at risk into sectoral policy, planning and practices
  • collaborative research and traditional knowledge
  • shaping and testing of decision support tools
  • assessing financial incentives and mechanisms

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

  • partner consultation, engagement and outreach
  • strategic policy development and international engagement
  • collaborative research and traditional knowledge

Investing in partnership, action and outcomes

Through the Nature Legacy and Canada Nature Fund (Species Stream), the government has committed up to $155 million over 5 years to help implement the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation in Canada. Most of this funding will be directed to major initiatives for the priority places, species, and sectors.

Up to $15.6 million of the funds will be allocated through the CNPP. This is an open application-based funding initiative to support collaborative multi-partner projects for species at risk. The Canada Nature Fund complements other sources of existing funding available to support the conservation of nature by partners and stakeholders.

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