A new $100-million program announced by the Government of Canada is poised to protect some of the country’s most valuable—and vulnerable—wetland habitats.

Canada’s wetlands are some of the most productive and valuable ecosystems in the country. They naturally filter pollutants from water, mitigate floods and droughts, and protect communities from sea level rise.

However, many wetlands are located within privately held or settled landscapes that can make them more vulnerable to degradation and loss. The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a four-year federal government commitment that will focus on securing intact ecosystems on privately owned or managed lands.

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, made the announcement in Toronto. The program is expected to conserve 200,000 hectares (more than 490,000 acres) across the country over the next four years.

Karla Guyn, chief executive officer of DUC, joined Minister McKenna in Toronto. Guyn said the Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a significant investment that will positively impact generations to come.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada has a long and successful history of working with landowners and families as well as community groups, businesses, and public agencies to deliver conservation that benefits them and the environment,” said Guyn. “Funding from the Natural Heritage Conservation Program will allow us to engage with more partners who have a shared interest in private lands. Working together to establish new protected areas will deliver more important environmental benefits to all Canadians.”

DUC will work closely with the Nature Conservancy of Canada who is overseeing the allocation of Natural Heritage Conservation Program funding. DUC will also be responsible for matching every federal dollar it receives with at least two dollars of non-federal contributions.

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“The matching component of the program is powerful,” said Guyn. “We will be working with our supporters and conservation-minded Canadians from coast to coast to identify the lands and raise the funds that will not only triple the investment but triple the conservation impact.”

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program will contribute to achieving Canada’s Target 1 goal of protecting at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and freshwater habitats by 2020. It is funded through the federal government’s Canada Nature Fund.


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