Canada Target 1

By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and Goal Ainland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.



About the Target

Canada's natural spaces are a vital component of Canadian culture, heritage, economy, and future, and they are of global importance. Canada's forests, wetlands, prairies, tundra, and oceans provide essential ecosystem services that support human life and well-being in many ways, including sustaining important cultural and spiritual connections with nature. Canada contains 28% of the world’s boreal zone, 20% of the worlds freshwater, the world’s longest coastline, and one of the world’s largest marine territories. The country’s natural areas include critical habitat for species at risk on land and at sea; over 2 million lakes and rivers that provide drinking water and energy; and forests and wetlands that store greenhouse gases, produce oxygen, and regulate flooding.  

Protecting these important areas from degradation is one of Canada’s key means of conserving biodiversity and is vital in maintaining the ecosystem services provided by these areas. Canada's protected and other conserved areas provide a living legacy for future generations of Canadians, affording opportunities for people to discover and learn about nature. Canada has made great progress through the creation of national, provincial, and municipal parks and many other types of conserved areas that complement the role of protected areas in conserving nature.

As pressures that threaten to degrade natural areas continue to increase, even greater effort is required to conserve our land and water through a variety of means. All sectors of society, including business, the non-profit sector, landowners, and citizens have an important role to play in conserving natural areas in their community and on private land. It is important to continue to focus on areas that are ecologically representative and important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to ensure that these areas are well connected and effectively managed. Further, there is a need to integrate these areas into the wider landscapes and seascapes in which they are situated.

Canada Target 1 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

  • Aichi Target 11 - By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.


2018 Interim Progress Assessment

Canada assesses progress towards Target 1 using two core indicators: the percentage of total terrestrial territory (including inland water) conserved in protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs); and, the percentage of total coastal and marine territory conserved in marine protected areas and OECMs.

Canada is making progress but at an insufficient rate to achieve the 17% terrestrial target and is on track to achieve the 10% marine target. As of December 2018, 11.2% of Canada’s land and inland water and 7.9% of coastal and marine areas were conserved. Annual updates can be found online at Canada's conserved areas indicators.

Conservation of Terrestrial Areas and Inland Water

On track to meeting target at an insufficient rate iconIn 2016 Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments launched the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative, which, combined with recent federal investments, is helping accelerate action towards the terrestrial component of Canada Target 1.

Canada’s provincial and territorial governments are responsible for administering many public lands in Canada, therefore achieving Target 1 depends in part on provincial and territorial efforts. Several provinces and territories are pursuing measures that contribute to achieving Target 1, including strategies or system plans with area-based conservation targets. For example, Nova Scotia has committed to expanding its protected areas network to cover 13% of the province, and Prince Edward Island has committed to protecting 7% of its area.

In addition, Québec has committed to conserving 17% of its terrestrial areas and inland water and 10% of its marine areas. Québec does not participate directly in the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative but contributes to the pan-Canadian effort through this equivalent target.

Canada has made significant advances towards its Target 1 goals with the recent creation of the first Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) funded by the Canada Nature Fund – Edéhzhíe Protected Area in the Northwest Territories. Edéhzhíe has been declared an IPA by the Dehcho First Nations and will also be established as a federal National Wildlife Area (NWA) in 2020. It consists of an area of approximately 14,218 km2. It is home to species at risk such as woodland caribou and wolverines, provides important migratory bird habitat, and contains the headwaters of three rivers.

Collaborative efforts related to terrestrial areas and inland waters have accelerated since 2016 with the creation of the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative. These efforts are being supported by historic investments in nature conservation announced by the Government of Canada as part of federal Budget 2018. Canada’s Nature Legacy investment of $1.35 billion over 5 years includes a new Canada Nature Fund to support the protection of Canada’s ecosystems and biodiversity, including species at risk.

The Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative aims to accelerate progress toward achieving the terrestrial and inland water components of Canada Target 1. This includes achieving ecological representation, connectivity, areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, and effective and equitable management. The Pathway initiative was launched in February 2017 and is co-led by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta on behalf of the provinces and territories. The Pathway includes a National Steering Committee with federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal government members, as well as representatives from Indigenous organizations and governments. Several advisory bodies have provided advice to the Pathway, including an Indigenous Circle of Experts, a Local Government Advisory Group, and a National Advisory Panel, which proposed a series of recommendations for how Canada could meet Target 1. In June 2018, federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together towards Canada Target 1. This commitment was affirmed again with the recent release of One with Nature: A Renewed Approach to Land and Freshwater Conservation in Canada. The report presents pan-Canadian opportunities, jointly developed by federal, provincial and territorial departments and informed by the recommendations of the advisory bodies noted above, to support progress towards achieving Canada Target 1 by the end of 2020.

The Nature Fund represents a $500 million federal investment to be matched by philanthropic, corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial and other partners. It includes:

  1. A Quick Start component that awarded almost $15 million to help establish 39 near-ready protected and other conserved areas across Canada in 2018-19 to build momentum to Target 1;
  2. A Challenge component which anticipates up to $175 million in federal funding to support the establishment of up to 35 Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas and other protected and conserved areas, thereby making significant progress towards Canada Target 1 and contributing meaningfully to reconciliation; and
  3. The Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP), a funding program providing $100 million over 4 years to protect ecologically sensitive areas through the securement of private lands and interests across the country. The NHCP will be delivered nationally by an organization that can coordinate local, provincial/territorial, and national conversation organizations.

Conservation of Coastal and Marine Areas

On track to meeting target iconEfforts in recent years to make progress toward the marine and coastal areas component of Target 1 have put Canada on track to meet its 10% target by 2020. Canada has outlined its approach for achieving these milestones through a five-point plan to meet its marine conservation targets.

  • Completing work already underway in creating Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) , such as the Banc-des-Américains and the Laurentian Channel Areas of Interest;
  • Protecting large areas, including the Pacific Offshore and possible areas in the Arctic, as well as a whole-of-government approach for an Impact and Benefit Agreement for Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA);
  • Protecting areas under pressure in five priority bioregions where MPA network development is occurring;
  • Advancing Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures; and
  • Establishing MPAs faster and more effectively through the passage of Bill C-55 which amends the Oceans Act to broaden the categories of Marine Protected Areas and to provide the minister with the authority to provide interim protection to candidate sites.

The proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal territory recognized as conserved has greatly increased in recent years. In 2015 around 1% was conserved. By December 2017, approximately 7.7% (442,926 km2) was conserved, surpassing Canada’s interim target to conserve 5% of its marine and coastal area. This increased to approximately 7.9% in June 2018 with the establishment of Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area.

This growth in marine conservation also includes:

  • Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam Oceans Act MPA in the Northwest Territories was established in November 2016 and protects approximately 2,358 km2 (0.04%) of marine area. The area was established in cooperation with the Inuvialuit through processes embedded in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (1984).
  • Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area is a marine refuge located off of Nova Scotia and conserves approximately 10,234 km2 (0.18%) of marine area. All commercial and recreational fisheries using bottom-contact gear and/or gear known to interact with groundfish are prohibited in the marine refuge.
  • Interim protection for Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA), in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut was announced in 2017 by the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. The area will be formally established under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, but in the interim, all mining, petroleum and seismic activities are presently prohibited. The NMCA protects 109,000 km2 of Arctic waters, contributing 1.9% to the 10% target, and reflecting the wishes of Inuit communities to protect an area that has sustained their culture for millennia.

Given the vastness of Canada’s terrestrial and marine territory, Canada’s efforts under the Pathway initiative and in the marine environment will make a significant contribution to the global effort to achieve Aichi Target 11.

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