Nature-based solutions are among the most powerful tools to address climate change. They leverage the power of Canada’s ecosystems to realize a number of key sustainability goals: preventing biodiversity loss, improving our resilience to extreme weather events, improving our air and water quality, securing our food supply, and capturing and storing carbon emissions that drive climate change. Actions like protecting wetlands, for example, helps capture and store carbon, while improving land management to make communities more resilient to extreme heat or flooding.
Building on Canada’s commitment to protect and conserve nature, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, recently announced that applications are now being accepted for the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. With up to $200 million available over the next five years, the funding will help individuals and organizations reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by conserving, restoring, and enhancing the management of critical ecosystems.
“Canada is home to 24 percent of the world’s wetlands, 25 percent of temperate rainforest areas, and 28 percent of remaining boreal forests. These ecosystems are globally significant for absorbing carbon, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and protecting biodiversity,” said Guilbeault. “Investments to conserve, restore, and enhance these vital ecosystems and increase their resilience support our targets to address climate change and contribute to Canada’s efforts to transition to a net-zero economy by 2050, help stem biodiversity loss, and contribute to job creation in the green economy.”
Supported projects will focus on restoring degraded ecosystems and conserving carbon-rich areas at high risk of conversion. Proposed projects would also focus on improving land management practices, especially in the agriculture, forest, and urban development sectors. Funding applications for projects to be completed in 2022–2023 will be accepted until January 25, 2022.
Project work under the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, launched earlier in 2021, has already begun. Fourteen projects received funding in 2021–2022 and are projected to conserve up to 30,000 hectares; restore up to 6,000 hectares; and contribute to the enhanced management of up to 18,000 hectares of wetlands, grasslands, and riparian areas.
The Fund will provide over $71 million over three years for projects, including three Prairies-based projects with Ducks Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.
Over the next ten years (2021–2031), the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund will support projects to restore, enhance, and conserve inland and coastal wetlands, peatlands, grasslands, and forests to capture and store carbon and to update policies, programs, and tools to better enable nature-based climate solutions.