International Contributions

Environment Canada participates in various international conservation programs and conventions. For example, many of Environment Canada’s protected areas are internationally recognized and contribute toward Canada’s international commitments, including the following:

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), signed in 1971, in Ramsar, Iran, which identifies wetlands of international ecological significance. Seventeen of Environment Canada’s protected areas are within one of the 37 Ramsar sites in Canada, such as Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area -- the first Ramsar site established in North America (in 1978).

  • The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, which links together sites in North, Central and South America that are essential to migrating shorebirds. Shepody National Wildlife Area was named Canada’s first such reserve, in 1987.

  • Important Bird Areas, a BirdLife International program established for the protection of critical habitat for the world’s birds. There are 89 Important Bird Areas among Environment Canada's network of protected areas.

Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area © Andrée Mailloux, Environment Canada

At the federal level, Environment Canada administers the 1916 Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds, signed between Canada and the United States, one of the first international environmental treaties in North America. The Convention was amended in 1995 by the Parksville Protocol.

Environment Canada has also played a prominent role in the implementation of the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which is aimed at the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. One of the first actions taken by Canada under this convention was the development of the 1995 Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, an overarching framework on biodiversity conservation to enhance coordination of national efforts. Environment Canada’s protected areas network is integral to advancing many of the principles outlined in this strategy.

As a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Environment Canada further contributes to a variety of projects on an on-going basis, including the World Database on Protected Areas, for which Environment Canada serves as the coordinator of the national reporting process on all protected areas in Canada, executed through the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas.

For more information on Canada's involvement in global conservation efforts, consult the International Programs and Conventions section under Wildlife Habitat.