Privately Protected Areas (Natural Heritage Conservation Program)

There is no path to creating a more sustainable and resilient Canada without nature conservation. An extraordinary investment in the protection of nature now is among the most cost-effective choices we can make to counter the effects of climate change. However, Canada’s ambitious goals cannot be achieved by government alone.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) and its predecessor, the Natural Areas Conservation Program, have an unparalleled track record of delivering innovative habitat retention solutions by encouraging and securing additive private investment in conservation. Program partners leveraged nearly $400 million in Government of Canada funding, matched it with nearly $800 million in other contributions to deliver more than $1 billion in conservation outcomes over the past 14 years.

This program has expanded Canada’s network of protected areas with the conservation and management of some of the country’s most biodiverse and most vulnerable habitats. The partnership has also enabled important additional stewardship activities, restoration actions, and species-at-risk recovery efforts. Many of these lands are situated close to Canadian communities that, in turn, receive valuable ecosystem service co-benefits such as water and air purification, soil retention, protection from impacts of flood and drought, and carbon sequestration.

Today, the pace of the current program, especially the increased demand for new match funding dollars required to conserve critical habitats, no longer meets the needs of Canada and the planet. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Canadian land trust community are ready to mobilize Canadians to accelerate private land conservation and double NHCP’s impact. With an expanded investment of $500 million in additive federal funding, this critical program would deliver $1.5 billion in new conservation outcomes over seven years, on track to achieving $2 billion by 2030. An expansion of the NHCP would also enable work at scale in the middle and northern parts of Canada, by joining with Crown and Indigenous partners to contribute to large- scale conservation solutions.

The renewal of the NHCP will also accelerate the practical application of, and proof-of- concept for, nature-based climate solutions by attracting new sources of private capital. It will empower program partners to continue to make critical investments in southern Canada to protect and connect natural areas that sustain species at risk and prosperous communities. Closer to the majority of the population in Southern Canada, these projects touch the hearts and minds of Canadians, and will stimulate greater private funding ratios.

A bold government investment is the catalyst needed to encourage more private sector support from partners, donors, the agriculture and forestry sectors, and corporations, to advance Canada’s transition to a nature-positive and net-zero future. Expanding the size and scope of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program would drive Canada toward becoming nature-positive by 2030 and carbon-neutral by 2050.

Recommended Investment:

$500 million over seven years with funds leveraged 2 to 1 to achieve $1.5 billion in conservation outcomes, with a view to achieving $2 billion by 2030. [ECCC]


Paul Hewer –
James Brennan –
Cameron Mack – (for the Canadian land trusts)