community news

Nature Trust welcomes new national program to protect nature


TORONTO—The Nova Scotia Nature Trust and partner land trusts across Canada are celebrating a new federally-funded $100 million program to safeguard biodiversity across Canada. The four-year Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP), announced today by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, will help protect more of Canada’s nature, through the power of Canada’s land trusts. The fund will support privately protected areas in ecologically sensitive landscapes, from forests and wetlands to lakeshores, rivers and coastal islands. 

“Nature is our most precious resource. By working together, we can double the amount of nature we’re protecting in our oceans and our lands from coast to coast to coast. Today’s investment will help protect nature closer to where Canadians live at the same time as focusing on the parts of Canada that are facing the greatest threats to areas rich in biodiversity,” noted Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change at the announcement.

The NHCP is the latest program announced under Canada’s Nature Fund. It will be delivered by four partners: The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and the Canadian Land Trusts Working Group, representing land trusts across the country. The program will assist local, provincial and national conservation land trusts in securing nature on privately-owned land and establishing new protected areas.

Through this new program, land trusts will establish at least 200,000 hectares (more than 490,000 acres) of newly protected land over the next four years, focused in southern Canada where nature and wildlife faces the greatest pressures, where most species at risk are found, and where the majority of land is privately owned.  Land trusts work together with private landowners searching for conservation solutions for privately owned natural areas.

Bonnie Sutherland, executive director of Nova Scotia’s largest land trust, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, commends the Minister and her Government’s ambitious conservation action. “We enthusiastically applaud the Government of Canada’s historic investment in biodiversity and its recognition of the critical role land trusts play in effectively protecting Canada’s biodiversity.”

The program will directly contribute to Canada’s Target 1, the nationwide initiative to protect at least 17 per cent of our land and freshwater by 2020, and doubling the amount of nature protected in our lands and oceans.

For every dollar of federal funding, land trusts will provide a minimum $2 in matching funding from non-federal sources, including donations of lands.

While 80 per cent of the funding will go to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada, $20 million ($5 million annually for 4 years) is earmarked for Canada’s local and regional land trusts under a new program to be administered by Wildlife Habitat Canada. The program is open to all 140 land trusts across Canada, through a competitive annual call for proposals. While there is no regional allocation or guarantee of funding for Nova Scotia, the Nature Trust is hopeful at least some funding will flow to Nova Scotia, especially because the majority of the province is under private ownership.

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust has already made big strides forward in biodiversity conservation on this coast, with the help the Canada Nature Fund Quick Start Program—an initiative launched in 2018 to build momentum for the multiple Nature Fund programs being rolled out by the Government of Canada this spring. Through its Lasting Landscapes campaign, the Nature Trust secured protection for 17 new conservation sites (3200 acres) across the province in just a few months, thanks to the Nature Fund and generous public support.

If successful in securing some of this newly announced funding, the Nature Trust will continue to ramp up the pace and scale of land conservation in Nova Scotia, aiming to make significant progress in the race against time to protect Nova Scotia’s wild spaces and the species that depend on them.

Nova Scotians seem eager to help make that happen. “Based on the tremendous public outpouring of support and encouragement for our Lasting Landscapes campaign, it’s clear that Nova Scotians want to see continued immediate, tangible and lasting protection of nature in Nova Scotia,” says Sutherland.

Any NHCP funds flowing to Nova Scotia will require a 2 to 1 match ($2 in publically raised funds for every $1 provided by the NHCP), so Nova Scotians have a critical role play in making major land conservation gains in the places they love.

The Nature Trust has protected over 14,000 acres of Nova Scotia’s most outstanding natural areas during its first 25 years of land conservation.  Over 110 conservation lands are protected, forever, for nature, and for people too.  To donate or volunteer to help protect biodiversity in Nova Scotia visit or call (902) 425-5263.


Nature Legacy and Canada Target 1

  • In 2010, Canada was one of 194 countries to adopt a strategic plan for biodiversity, including 20 global biodiversity targets known as the Aichi Targets
  • Under Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets, Target 1 commits Canada to protecting at least 17% of land and freshwater by 2020
  • The Government of Canada is committed to doubling the amount of protected nature, in our lands and waters, across Canada
  • Nature Legacy is the single biggest investment in nature conservation by a Government in Canadian history. This historic $1.3 billion investment will help Canada meet its 2020 conservation targets, ensure healthier habitats for species at risk, and improve biodiversity for all

Canada Nature Fund

  • The Canada Nature fund is a $500 million investment to support the efforts of non-federal partners whose commitment is critical to achieving success in nature conservation.  Canada Nature Fund contributions are matched by philanthropic foundations, corporations, not-for-profits, provinces, territories and other partners, raising a total of $1 billion for conservation action.
  • The Fund supports the establishment of a coordinated network of protected and conserved areas and helps with the conservation of species at risk and their habitats.
  • To launch the program, the Government invested the first $15 million with key conservation leaders across Canada through the Quick Start program (including support for the Nature Trust’s Lasting Landscapes campaign)
  • Additional Nature Fund programs are being launched in the spring of 2019

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program

  • This new Nature Fund program was announced by Minister McKenna on April 23, 2019
  • In November 2018, the Government of Canada launched a call for proposals for the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. The call sought proposals from organizations to develop, coordinate, and deliver a national program aimed at assisting local, provincial, territorial, and national conservation organizations in securing at least 200,000 hectares of ecologically sensitive private lands and interests in lands in Canada
  • The Nature Conservancy of Canada and partners (Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and the Canadian Land Trusts Working Group) were selected to administer and deliver the program
  • The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a $100-million, four-year federal government commitment to support private land conservation. Every federal dollar will be matched by the land trust partners with at least two dollars of non-federal contributions
  • The Nature Conservancy of Canada will oversee the NHCP with contributions from program partners Ducks Unlimited Canada and Canada’s land trusts (Canadian Land Trusts Working Group). Wildlife Habitat Canada will administer the local land trust portion of the program ($20 million over 4 years). The remaining $80 million will go to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada
  • Private lands are mainly located in southern Canada where the greatest biodiversity is found. These private lands are where most Canadians reside and where pressures from development are higher.
  • The $500 million Canada Nature Fund, which funds the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, is part of the Budget 2018 Nature Legacy initiative, which invests $1.3 billion in nature conservation.
  • The NHCP will focus on multi-species at risk conservation, including establishing habitat for the 25 Canadian terrestrial species at risk that are currently not found in any public or privately protected areas
  • This new program will focus on conservation in the settled landscapes of southern Canada, where most Canadians live, work and play. It is also where most of Canada’s species at risk are found
  • The NHCP will encourage Canadians to entrust their lands to conservation. Government support is meaningful to families who are searching for conservation solutions for privately owned natural areas
  • Conservation is an important element of any strategy to help Canadians mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • Globally, Canada has 20 per cent of freshwater resources, 24 per cent of wetlands, 25 per cent of temperate rainforest area, and 33 per cent of remaining boreal forest
  • Canada also has almost one third of all land-based carbon storage. This is a vital element of action on climate change

Canadian Land Trusts Working Group

  • The Canadian Land Trusts Working Group is an ad hoc working group with representation from

regional and community land trusts from the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and 3 provincial associations (Réseau de milieu naturels protégés, the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia) formed to provide a unified the voice for sector in current discussions with the Federal Government around conservation programs and funding.

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust

  • The Nature Trust is Nova Scotia’s leading private land conservation organization, active in protecting our natural legacy since 1994
  • The organization protects ecologically significant natural areas through private land conservation, offering a unique solution for a significant conservation challenge. Unlike most of Canada, over 65% of Nova Scotia is privately owned, not government land. Land Trusts provide landowners with a non-government community based option for protecting their land
  • Private lands include many of most ecologically important areas, yet face unprecedented development pressures.
  • Through permanent conservation easement agreements, we help families to protect, forever, their treasured and ecologically important family lands. We also accept land donations and bequests of land, and in exceptional cases, we purchase outstanding and threatened natural areas.
  • All conservation lands entrusted to our care become part of the land legacy that we safeguard for all Nova Scotians. Our commitment is to protect those lands, forever through ongoing monitoring, stewardship and management.
  • An active program of volunteer “property guardians” help to care for this growing network of protected areas
  • Our innovative, community-based educational initiatives are helping to build understanding and appreciation for the natural world. We give Nova Scotians the knowledge and tools they need to take an active part in protecting the places they love and ensuring that the legacy is passed on to future generations.
  • The Nature Trust is an active partner and collaborator in conservation with all levels of government, with other non-profits and local communities
  • Over the last 25 years, the Nature Trust has successfully and permanently protected over 11,000 acres of significant natural areas, including over 100 conservation properties across Nova Scotia.
  • Thanks to major support from the Government of Canada’s Nature Fund (Quick Start Program), the Nature Trust undertook an ambitious land conservation campaign in 2019, the Lasting Landscapes Campaign.  They successfully protected 17 new biodiversity hotspots securing over 1290 hectares (3200) acres of priority conservation lands within eight signature conservation projects across the province


Bonnie Sutherland, Executive Director

Nova Scotia Nature Trust

(902) 425-5263