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Canadian Protected Areas - Status Report 2006-2011

Chapter 2: Protected Areas Planning


Protected areas planning in Canada is rooted in legislation at all levels of government, but it continues to be shaped by commitments aimed at stemming or halting the loss of ecosystem integrity, biodiversity, and ecological goods and services. Chapter 1 reviewed national and international targets for protected area coverage; this discussion focuses on those targets related to national systems/ networks and representativity as a context for reviewing the status of protected areas planning.

In 1992, federal, provincial and territorial ministers signed A Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Networks of Protected Areas (CCME, CPC and WMCC,1992) to "make every effort to complete Canada's networks of protected areas representative of Canada's land-based natural regions by the year 2000." The Statement of Commitment called for each organization to "adopt frameworks, strategies and time frames" to meet this goal. A few years later, the goal was reiterated by the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (Government of Canada, 1995).

Also in 1992, the CBD (CBD, 1992) was adopted, which underlined the importance of "national systems of protected areas" in the conservation of biodiversity.

More than a decade later, the parties to the CBD adopted the most comprehensive blueprint for protected areasever made by the international community. Called the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) (CBD, 2004b), it comprises 16 goals covering topics such as planning and management, involvement of indigenous and local communities, and scientific knowledge. The overall purpose of PoWPA is "to support the establishment and maintenance by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas of comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas ..." (CBD, 2004b).

In 2010, the CBD parties adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the 2011-2020 period, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (CBD, 2010), many of which deal with strategic issues relevant to protected areas, such as loss of natural habitats, safeguarding of essential services, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Target 11 focuses on the conservation of "effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well- connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures ... integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes." The Conference of the Parties (COP 10) also aligned the targets of PoWPA with specific indicators and timelines that are based on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Strategic Plan.

National And International Commitments Related To Protected Area Systems/Networks And Representativity

  • 1992: "National systems of protected areas"
    • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992)
  • 1992: "Make every effort to complete Canada's networks of protected areas representative of land- based natural regions by the year 2000, and accelerate the protection of areas that are representative of marine natural regions"-A Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Network of Protected Areas (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canada Parks Council and Wildlife Ministers Council of Canada, 1992)
  • 2002: "Establish representative networks of marine protected areas by 2012"-Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002)
  • 2004: "Comprehensive, effectively managed and ecologically representative systems of protected areas"-Programme of Work on Protected Areas (CBD, 2004b)
  • 2004: The Programme of Work on Protected Areas (CBD, 2004b) also includes the following goals.
    • Goal 1.2: To integrate protected areas into broader land- and seascapes and sectors so as to maintain ecological structure and function
    • Goal 2.2: To enhance and secure involvement of indigenous and local communities and relevant stakeholders
    • Goal 3.1: To provide an enabling policy, institutional and socio-economic environment for protected areas
    • Goal 3.2: To build capacity for the planning, establishment and management of protected areas
    • Goal 4.4: To ensure that scientific knowledge contributes to the establishment and effectiveness of protected areas and protected area systems
  • 2015: "By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures." (Canada, 2015)

See Appendix 2 for the complete list of PoWPA goals and Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Appendix 2 summarizes the main goals of PoWPA as well as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

This second chapter of the status report answers such questions as:

  • What is the legal and policy framework that enables the establishment of protected areas in Canada, and how has it evolved since the last report?
  • What are the goals of protected areas planning, and how well are they being accomplished?
  • How do private lands contribute to Canadian efforts on protected areas and biodiversity conservation?
  • Is the planning and design of Canada's systems and networks informed by a strong scientific foundation?
  • To what extent are climate change adaptation or mitigation measures being integrated into protected areas planning?
  • What is the role of Aboriginal peoples and local communities in protected areas planning, and how is this evolving?

Legislation For Protected Areas

All 17 protected area organizations responsible for terrestrial or marine protected areas in Canada (see Glossary) have enabling legislation in place for the establishment of protected areas; 4 organizations updated their legislation during 2006-2011 (BC, MB, ON and NS).

  • Four organizations across the country updated legislation to enshrine new targets and approaches for protected area planning:
    • (1) British Columbia amended the Park Act in 2006 to create a new protected area designation-called a "Conservancy";
    • (2) Manitoba amended The Crown Lands Act through The Save Lake Winnipeg Act in 2011 to allow for the legal designation of significant provincial wetlands, and passed The East Side Traditional Lands Planning and Special Protected Areas Act in 2009 to enable First Nations and Aboriginal communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to engage in land use and resource management planning for designated areas of Crown land that they traditionally used;
    • (3) Ontario passed the new Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, making ecological integrity a first priority, and the Far North Act (and concomitant changes to The Mining Act of Ontario), committing at least 50% of the province's north to protected areas; and
    • (4) Nova Scotia committed in the Environment Goals and

      Legislative Amendment In British Columbia Creates a New Conservancy Protected Area Designation

      British Columbia's new Conservancy designation was developed in collaboration with coastal First Nations to protect special areas on the central and north coasts of the province. The Conservancy designation explicitly recognizes the importance of a protected area to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural uses. It has been used to establish new protected areas in the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii and the Sea to Sky Corridor.

      Sustainable Prosperity Act to ensure that 12% of its land area was legally protected by the year 2015.
  • Nunavut, Canada's newest territory, identifies development of a new Territorial Parks Act as a priority for the next five years, to clarify the roles for parks and conservation areas and reflect the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement for Territorial Parks.
  • The Canadian Land Trust Alliance reports that all provinces have legislation in place enabling private land conservation. During the reporting period, changes were made to the federal Income Tax Act to promote private land conservation. (See Collaborative efforts with non-government conservation organizations, below.)

Protected Area Strategies

Three quarters of terrestrial protected area organizations (12 of 16) have protected area strategies in place. More than half of MPA organizations (5 of 9) have protected area strategies in place (Figure 10).

  • British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have all advanced implementation of their terrestrial protected area strategies in the last five years, and now join Parks Canada Agency in reporting substantial completion of their strategy. In 2007, Nova Scotia legislated a goal to legally protect 12% of the province by 2015, and this was followed by the release of Our Wild Spaces (2011), providing a public review of nearly 220 000 hectares of land under consideration of protection. Parks Canada Agency and Manitoba also report substantial implementation of their MPA strategy (Figure 10).

Figure 10: Progress on protected area strategies (status of implementation: fully implemented, substantially implemented, partially implemented, implementation not yet begun, no strategy in place yet, no data available).

Progress on protected area strategies

Long description for Figure 10

Two charts representing progress on protected area strategy implementation, one for terrestrial and one for marine protected areas. For terrestrial areas, 13 provinces and territories and 3 federal departments are represented. The marine protected areas chart has six provinces or territories and three federal departments. Jurisdictions are placed in one of 6 categories depending on their progress in implementing protected area strategies: fully implemented, substantially implemented, partially implemented, implementation not yet begun, no strategy in place yet, and no data available.

Provincial progress on terrestrial protected area strategies.
NLPartiallyNo strategy
NUNo strategyNo strategy
PENo strategyPartially
YTNo strategyNo strategy
Federal progress on terrestrial protected area strategies.
ECPartiallyNo strategy
AAFCNo strategyNo strategy
Provincial progress on marine protected area strategies.
BCPartiallyNo data
MBSubstantiallyNo data
NBNo strategyNo data
NLNo strategyNo data
PENo strategyNo data
QCPartiallyNo data
Federal progress on marine protected area strategies.
PCASubstantiallyNo data
ECNo strategyNo data
DFOPartially No data
  • Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have completed protected areas strategies; however, new strategies have been developed to further grow their protected areas systems. Alberta approved the 2009 Plan for Parks, a major strategic policy document that provides the foundation for comprehensive policy development. Manitoba completed its ambitious Green and Growing strategic framework protecting more than one million hectares of Crown land in five new major protected areas. During the reporting period, Quebec completed its Strategic Action Plan 2002-2009, with an objective to increase protected area to 8% of Quebec's territory by 2009, and in 2011 adopted new protected area guidelines that increased the objective to 12% of Quebec's territory by 2015.

Individual protected areas opportunities are being considered in Yukon through the land claims process. Yukon considers new protected areas under approved regional land use plans. The Nunavut government supports the development of a protected areas strategy but feels that the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada department is best placed to lead the development of a strategy.

Objectives For Protected Areas Planning

Protected area organizations continue to focus on representative areas, with the majority of organizations (11 of 17) identifying this as a primary objective. More than half of organizations (9 of 17) also set objectives related to protecting a proportion of their land or ocean area. Increasing attention is being given to the protection of ecological goods and services, which is a primary or secondary objective for 5 organizations.

  • Eleven of 17 protected area organizations have as a primary objective to protect representative samples of their natural or ecological regions (PCA, NT, BC, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, PE, NS and NL). Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador note that while their legislation for MPAs does not specify this objective, these areas can contribute to representation through conserving habitats in the context of MPA network planning.
  • More than half of organizations (9 of 17) also set objectives of protecting a proportion of their land and ocean area (PCA, DFO, BC, SK, ON, QC, NS, NB and PE). Examples of protected area coverage objectives include the following:

Private Conservation Lands Play An Important Role In Delivering Conservation Objectives

Government or public protected areas cover 10.0% of Canada's land mass.

Private land conservation is particularly important:

  • 1) in areas of intense urban and resource development;
  • 2) in those provinces or regions where a high percentage of the land base is under private ownership; and
  • 3) when areas of high conservation value are located on private land.

Protected areas on private land can target key ecological functions or values, including securing habitat, safeguarding water sources, providing corridors and buffers to maintain connectivity and viability of existing protected areas, and contributing to goals for representative areas. They are often located in highly settled regions that also have high concentrations of fragmented habitats and species at risk.

  • British Columbia is working towards protecting 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020;
  • Nova Scotia will ensure that 12% of its land area is legally protected by the year 2015;
  • Prince Edward Island has committed to protect 7% of the province; and
  • Quebec has committed to protect 10% of marine areas by 2015.
    • A total of 15 of 17 organizations identify biodiversity conservation in general as the primary (9) or secondary (6) objective of protected areas as identified in legislation or policy. Yukon and Nunavut are the two exceptions: although not an objective in Yukon park legislation, biodiversity conservation is mentioned; Nunavut stresses the need for new legislation and programs that reflect Inuit rights, values and principles and demonstrate the benefits each designation can bring to local communities.
    • New Brunswick flags "ecological goods and services" as a primary objective in its protected area legislation and policy, and four other organizations (PCA, DFO, NS and PE) identify it as a secondary objective. Five other organizations mention this objective, and others note that although it is not referenced directly, it may fall within the scope of other criteria. Fisheries and Oceans Canada notes that Oceans Act MPAs contribute to protecting and conserving ecological goods and services. A recent overview of parks and protected areas in Canada observes this trend and explains that the "increasing interest in the value of ecosystem services provided by protected

"Contributory Sites" In The Marine Environment

"Contributory sites" in the marine environment contribute to achieving the objectives of the MPA network, although they fall short of meeting the definition of an MPA.

For example, contributory sites would include an area where critical habitat is protected under the provisions of the Species at Risk Act, and some areas where fishing activities are restricted under the Fisheries Act. Contributory sites can be considered some of the "other effective area-based conservation measures" that will be identified under Aichi Target 11.

Traditional Approaches To Protected Areas In An Era Of Climate Change

"Traditional approaches to protected areas, together with the guiding principles of 'ecoregional representation' and 'ecological integrity', have played and will continue to play an important role in protected areas planning, management and operations in the future. However, these approaches and principles may need to be refined and enhanced if the primary roles of protected areas systems are to be achieved in an era of climate change. While current system-wide goals are likely to remain as valid as ever, more careful consideration will have to be assigned to individual protected areas since climate change impacts may be highly variable depending upon the nature of the environments, ecosystems and species housed in specific areas." (Lemieux et al., 2010).

For more information, see PDF file.

areas reflects greater scientific understanding of ecosystem linkages and heightened public and political awareness of environmental degradation in general" (Dearden and Rollins, 2009).

Private conservation lands play an important role in delivering conservation objectives, as do some contributory sites in the marine environment.

Progress On Representativity

Progress has been made on completing systems or networks of protected areas representative of Canada's terrestrial and marine ecological regions, although much work remains.

More than one third of terrestrial protected area organizations (6 of 16) have substantially completed representation of all of their natural or ecological regions (PCA, BC, AB, SK, MB and QC). Four of 9 marine organizations have substantially or partially completed their representative frameworks (DFO, BC, MB and QC). When Canada's terrestrial protected areas are viewed within the National Ecological Framework for Canada,Table Footnote 10 70 of 194 ecoregions (36%) currently have at least 10% of their area protected;

Ecological Frameworks For Protected Areas Planning

Most jurisdictions aim to protect representative samples of their ecological diversity by establishing at least one protected area within each unit of an ecological framework. Most terrestrial protected area organizations refer to the National Ecological Framework for Canada at the ecoregion level to guide representation of terrestrial areas. British Columbia also applies a biogeoclimatic system to define its framework; Parks Canada Agency uses natural regions and plans to add a new terrestrial region to their framework. The framework for selection and design of protected areas in Ontario is based on an ecological framework (14 site regions and 65 site districts), a geological framework with thematic targets, and cultural heritage themes.

In Canada's marine environment, 12 bioregions have been delineated on the basis of oceanographic and ecological information, and 1 has been established in the Great Lakes in the context of Canada's network of MPAs. Each of these large regions will be subdivided into several smaller representative types. Parks Canada Agency has identified 29 distinct marine regions for its representative system. MPAs established under these two frameworks will contribute to marine representativity at different scales.

Some private land conservation is guided by an ecological framework as well: The Nature Conservancy of Canada, for example, purchases lands using a science-based process that starts with an ecoregional assessment that identifies biodiversity attributes of highest conservation value.

Map 4: Percentages of terrestrial ecoregions protected in Canada

Percentages of terrestrial ecoregions protected in Canada

Long description for Map 4

A map of the percentages of terrestrial ecoregions protected in Canada. Boundaries of 194 different terrestrial ecoregions are demarcated. The 194 different ecoregions fall into one of 7 categories, which appear on the map legend as:

  • 1 - 4.9% protected area
  • 5 - 9.9% protected area
  • 10 - 11.9% protected area
  • 12 - 14.9% protected area
  • 15 - 16.9% protected area
  • 17 - 19.9% protected area
  • greater than 20% protected area
  • 38 of 194 ecoregions (20%) currently have at least 17% of their area protected (Map 4).
  • Ecoregions form the basis of Nature Conservancy Canada's (NCC) conservation planning at the highest level, known as their "conservation blueprints." NCC has made a priority of assessing Canada's southern ecoregions where biodiversity, and threats to it, are highest. Each conservation blueprint identifies priority areas, in concert with existing protected areas, which could best support biodiversity of the ecoregion.
  • As a priority in the next 3 to 5 years, the Northwest Territories intends to work towards gaining support for large areas where no development will be allowed, an important goal of its ecologically representative areas. Parks Canada Agency aims to increase by one the number of terrestrial regions represented in the national park system. Yukon seeks to protect 1 representative core area within each of its 20 ecoregions.

Progress On Protected Area Coverage Table Footnote 11

As stated in Chapter 1, Canada has protected 10.0% of its lands and fresh waters (8.7% in permanent protected areas and 1.3% in interim protected areas), an increase from 9.1% in 2005. Canada has protected 0.9% of its marine territory (including internal marine waters, territorial seas and the Exclusive Economic Zone), an increase from 0.6% in 2005.

  • See Chapter 1: Extent and growth of protected areas for more information on protected area coverage in 2006-2011.
  • Several organizations emphasized the difficulty of completing their terrestrial protected areas systems or networks on publicly owned "Crown" lands alone. The efforts of land trusts in securing ecologically significant privately held lands are of critical importance.

Habitat Connectivity

Almost all organizations recognize the importance of their protected areas for habitat connectivity- either explicitly as a secondary protected area objective, inferred as an aspect of "ecological integrity" or "maintenance of ecological processes," or as a driver of candidate site designation.

The Myth Of Plenty?

There is a perception that the Arctic contains vast areas of lands available for protected areas. However, much of the potentially available land has been reserved or claimed for prospecting and exploration.

For example, in the last decade, Nunavut has been subject to the most extensive mineral rush in Canadian history. Currently, there are over 3 300 active prospecting permits, and mineral and coal leases, as well as 250 000 km2 devoted to mineral claims, committing over 630 000 km2-or one-third of the territory's total area-to potential development.

-NU protected areas jurisdiction representative

  • However, in practice, nine organizations noted "lack of tools for connectivity between existing protected areas" as a serious constraint. Quebec's new strategic guidelines (2011) highlight the importance of consolidating its network by maintaining or improving connectivity between the different protected areas.
  • Nova Scotia and Alberta note the intensification of land use or resource development surrounding protected areas, making the maintenance of ecological connectivity a major challenge in the next five years. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador highlight the need to work with other land users or land trusts to secure areas of high conservation value on private land. Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on Seabird Ecological Reserves, designed to maintain connectivity between terrestrial and marine habitats.

Private Land Conservation Improves Landscape Connectivity In Manitoba

Between 2005 and 2008, grants from the Government of Manitoba to the NCC's National Campaign for Conservation have helped the NCC purchase private lands protected near Riding Mountain National Park to provide corridors of habitat allowing wildlife to move freely through the region. Moose, elk, black bear, grey wolf and cougar use these pockets of habitat to move through their ranges. Barred owl, bobolink and a variety of grassland birds can also be found in the area.

  • Provinces emphasize the importance of private land conservation for achieving habitat connectivity objectives in their urbanized regions. For example, Nature Conservancy of Canada and other NGOs can purchase private lands or easements for habitat areas and corridors for species at risk.

Large And Unfragmented Habitat

Almost three quarters of the total area protected in Canada is now found within a relatively small number of protected areas (64) that are larger than 3000 km2, which is a roughly estimated minimum size needed to guard against biodiversity loss (Figure 11). Table Footnote 12

More than three quarters of organizations (13 of 16) include a primary or secondary objective in legislation or policy to protect large, intact or unfragmented areas (PCA, AAFC, EC, NT, BC, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, PE, NS and NL).

Five organizations (MB, QC, EC, DFO and PCA) established protected areas more than 3000 km2 in size, or expanded existing ones with additions to more than 3000 km2 in size, bringing the total number of these large protected areas to 64 (Table 6).

Recent strategic guidelines for Quebec intend to consolidate its network of protected areas by protecting core conservation areas capable of safeguarding wildlife species that are particularly sensitive to human activities. In this regard, Quebec will aim to protect a large land area that matches the conservation requirements of a particular species, such as woodland caribou, and will assess opportunities to extend protection to an additional large "wilderness" area covering more than 10 000 km2.

As the "last frontier," the marine environment offers an opportunity to establish large protected areas with unfragmented habitat. Countries such as the United States of America, Australia and South Africa have designated individual MPAs greater than 150 000 km2 in area (Marine Affairs Research and Education, 2011). Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified seven additional Areas of Interest under active consideration as potential MPAs, including two that are anticipated to exceed 3 000 km2.

Parks Canada Agency, Environment Canada, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Newfoundland and

Six-Fold Expansion Of Nahanni National Park Reserve In The Northwest Territories

The Nahanni National Park Reserve was expanded to six times its former size in 2009, making it Canada's third largest national park. This achievement has been called the greatest conservation gain in a generation.

Among the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Nahanni National Park Reserve is renowned for its wild white-water river and spectacular canyons, but until recently it encompassed only the lower reaches of the South Nahanni River, not its broader watershed or the river's upper reaches. The massive expansion in 2009 increased the park reserve to protect over 30 000 km2 of spectacular mountain terrain, unique geological landforms and critical wildlife habitat-almost the size of Vancouver Island.

This tremendous growth could not have happened without the strong vision and leadership of the Dehcho First Nations and their steadfast desire to protect this area of enormous significance. Together with Parks Canada Agency, the Dehcho people have worked tirelessly to ensure that a major portion of the watershed has been conserved and managed collaboratively in ways that honour and conserve the traditional Dehcho knowledge and culture.

-Parks Canada Agency (2011c) For more information, see Six-fold Expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories web site.

Labrador are advancing a total of 15 candidate terrestrial protected areas greater than 3 000 km2. For example, Parks Canada Agency and the Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation committed in 2010 to negotiate a park agreement for the establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, the proposal stretching for 33 000 km2 on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Parks Canada Agency and Newfoundland and Labrador announced in 2008 a commitment to establish a national park reserve in the wilderness area of the Mealy Mountains in Labrador, which at 10 700 km2 will be the largest National Park in eastern Canada.

Quebec continues to create vast parks in Nunavik, occupying the northern third of the province and homeland of the Inuit of Quebec. Kuururjuaq National

Figure 11: Total lands in protected areas larger and smaller than 3000 km2

Total lands in protected areas larger and smaller than 3000 km square

Long description for Figure 11

Total lands in protected areas larger and smaller than 3000 km2

Protected areas > 3000 km264 protected areas717 155 km2
Protected areas < 3000 km2 5619 protected areas325 899 km2

Protected areas >3000 km2 designated 2006–2011

Table 6

Managing agency: Parks Canada Agency

  • Name: Lake Superior National Marine Conservation
    • Total (km2 ): 10 000
    • Date : 2007

Managing agency: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

  • Name: Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area
    • Total (km2 ): 6 131
    • Date : 2008

Managing agency: Parks Canada Agency

  • Name: Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada (Extension)
    • Total (km2 ): 25 000
    • Date : 2009

Managing agency: Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks

  • Name: Kuururjuaq National Park
    • Total (km2 ): 4 460
    • Date : 2009

Managing agency: Parks Canada Agency

  • Name: Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site
    • Total (km2 ): 3 500
    • Date : 2010

Managing agency: Environment Canada

  • Name: Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area
    • Total (km2 ): 3 364
    • Date : 2010

Managing agency: Government of Manitoba

  • Name: Nueltin Lake Provincial Park
    • Total (km2 ): 4 472
    • Date : 2010

Government of Manitoba-Poplar River First Nation

  • Name: Asatiwisipe Aki Traditional Use Planning Area
    • Total (km2 ): 8 076
    • Date : 2011

Source: CARTS version 2011.12.31

Protected Areas And Species At Risk

Protection of habitat can help recover species at risk and protect some species before they start declining to critical levels. Protected areas can secure a wide range of habitat requirements, from a small area covering a unique occurrence of a plant, to critical spawning and rearing grounds in the marine environment, to large expanses of wilderness required by a species to survive.

Examples of protected areas that were established, expanded or adopted new management measures to benefit species at risk during the 2006-2011 reporting period include:

Greenbush Lake Protected Area (BC)-created to provide areas with no motorized access for the protection of habitat for Mountain Caribou, an ecotype of Woodland Caribou.

Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (DFO)- created to conserve and protect Beluga Whales and other marine species (anadromous fishes, waterfowl and seabirds), their habitats and their supporting ecosystem.

Mealy Mountains (NL)-created to protect most of the range of a threatened herd of woodland caribou.

Recent research (Deguise and Kerr, 2006) concludes that although protected area networks will play a useful role in conserving endangered species that occur within them, reducing extinction rates will require integrating conservation strategies with agricultural and urban land-use plans outside formally protected areas.

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area: The Largest Freshwater Protected Area In The World

In 2007, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced the creation of the largest freshwater protected area in the world: the 10 000 km2 Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. First Nations, other government partners, communities and stakeholders all contributed to this achievement.

Lake Superior has been home to First Nations for thousands of years, and it continues to be culturally and spiritually significant to Aboriginal people in the region. Herons, peregrine falcons and bald eagles soar overhead, and the shoreline provides habitat for white-tailed deer, moose and caribou. Some 70 species of fish live in Lake Superior, and the marine conservation area includes the spawning grounds of whitefish, lake herring, walleye, coaster brook and lake trout. Numerous shipwrecks found in the cold, clear waters are a legacy to the great lake's maritime history and its ferocious storms.

-Parks Canada Agency (2011a)

For more information, see Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area .

Park, created in 2009, covers an area of 4 460 km2 and protects 98% of the Koroc River watershed. The Tursujuq National Park Project will add more than 10 000 km2 to Lacs-Guillaume-Delisle-et-a-l'Eau-Claire

National Park Reserve, to total 26 107 km2. Quebec also plans to add 354 km2 to Ulittaniuialik (Monts- Pyramides) National Park Reserve, which already covers 1 935 km2.

Progress On Protecting Freshwater

More than half of protected area organizations (9 of 16) plan for the conservation of inland freshwater ecosystems within their protected areas networks, up from 6 organizations that did so in 2005.

Table 7 - Proportion of total freshwater included in protected areas

Proportion of total freshwaterincluded in protected areas organizations
30% or greater
20–29 %
10–19 %
0–9 %
Unknown or undetermined
  • Environment Canada, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador all report the inclusion of freshwater conservation as part of their protected area planning.
  • Organizations are improving their capacity to measure inland freshwater ecosystems and plan for the identification and establishment of freshwater protected areas.
  • Two thirds of all organizations (11 of 16) submitted estimates of total area of freshwater protected, amounting to some 75 000 km2. Total area of freshwater for Canada is estimated at 8.9 million km2 (Statistics Canada, 2005).
  • Fifteen federal and 48 provincial protected areas encompass over 10 850 km2 of waters or coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes.Table Footnote 13 One of these, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, is 10 000 km2.
    • Actions are being taken across the country to represent freshwater ecosystems in protected area systems and networks:
    • Parks Canada Agency's National Marine Conservation Area's (NMCA) system plan provides for five NMCAs to represent the Great Lakes freshwater ecosystem. In 2007, the Lake Superior NMCA was established and joined Fathom Five National Marine Park as the first two NMCAs in the Great Lakes.
    • The Northwest Territories Protected Area Strategy includes coarse-scale freshwater classification, and methods are being developed for using it as a basis for analyzing freshwater ecosystem representation.
    • Alberta completed the Aquatic Environment Significant Areas report in 2011, which informs protected areas system planning by identifying the most significant wetlands.
    • One of the objectives set by Quebec is to ensure the protection of one large river in each natural province of the ecological framework.

Science In Support Of Protected Areas Planning

Decades of research have expanded the scientific foundation for protected areas planning, but there is still much to learn, particularly related to the consequences and implications of climate change on the conservation of ecological integrity.

Almost two thirds of terrestrial organizations (10 of 16) have enough or substantial scientific information for planning representative protected areas systems or networks. However, the same number of terrestrial organizations lack information to plan networks or systems for achieving biodiversity objectives, reporting that scientific information

is partially or not available. Almost all terrestrial organizations (14 of 16) report that scientific information is partially or not available for achieving objectives related to the conservation of ecological goods and services.

The majority of marine organizations reported that scientific information was lacking for the design of networks based on a wide range of features and properties.

From a list of resources for protected areas planning, terrestrial and marine organizations identified the two that represented the most serious limitations for network or system planning as

  • (1) inventory and monitoring; and (2) stress assessments and indicators. Capacity related to (1) traditional ecological knowledge; and
  • (2) identification of areas of cultural importance to Aboriginal communities were moderately limiting but have both improved since the last status report.

Most protected area organizations reported having adequate capabilities with respect to

  • (1) GIS mapping and analysis;
  • and (2) identifying and evaluating candidate areas.

A survey of Canada's protected areas sector revealed that lack of scientific information is limiting some adaptation actions on climate change. Specifically, all agencies said they would like more scientific information on the ecological consequences of climate change, and almost all (94%) indicated they would like more information on the implications of climate change for policy, planning and management strategies (Lemieux et al., 2010).

Planning For Climate Change

Protected area organizations have initiated work to begin dealing with climate change. One quarter of terrestrial organizations (4 of 16) have integrated climate change adaptation or mitigation measures into protected areas planning and management strategies (AAFC, BC, NB and PE), and 9 more are in the process of doing so (PCA, YT, NT, AB, SK, MB, ON, NS and NL). One third of marine organizations (3 of 9) are developing adaptation measures to integrate into network design (PCA, DFO and BC).

  • This marks progress since the last reporting period, when five protected area agencies were "beginning to assess potential impacts of climate change and considering adaptation strategies." However, protected areas agencies are still largely focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of climate change and are only in the very preliminary stages of developing strategic responses (Lemieux et al., 2010).
  • A recent study commissioned by CCEA (Lemieux et al., 2010) points out that incremental adaptation to climate change within Canada's protected areas agencies is occurring to some extent, but there remains an important gap between the perceived importance of the issue and the capacity (funding, staff expertise, etc.) of protected areas agencies and organizations to respond.
  • Examples of organizational actions on integrating climate change adaptation or mitigation measures in protected areas planning and management strategies include:
    • Parks Canada Agency: The day-to-day management and operation of protected areas addresses climate change, working with partners at the landscape level to manage escalating outbreaks of insect pests, conduct active management and ecological restoration to help build resilient ecosystems, and address changing visitor interests and demands at various sites across the country.
    • British Columbia: Acquisition of private lands considers connectivity to further strengthen capacity of ecosystems to adapt to climate change; carbon financing (credits) was used to complete a land acquisition transaction.
    • Manitoba: Part of Kaskatamagan Wildlife Management Area was protected in 2009 to protect coastal migration routes, and maternity denning areas for polar bears. The western Hudson Bay sub-population of polar bears was recently listed as threatened in The Endangered Species Act of Manitoba.
    • Nova Scotia: The province has been working with others in the Chignecto Isthmus with the goal of helping to build and maintain a natural, protected corridor along its axis.
    • The Canadian Parks Council has prepared a framework for collaborative action on climate change. Parks Canada Agency has established a Climate Change Working Group that is developing a strategy on climate change mitigation and adaptation.Table Footnote 14 A research partnership established between the
    • University of Waterloo, the Centre for Applied Sciences in Ontario Protected Areas and the Ministry of Natural Resources has helped Ontario Parks understand the implications of climate change for the protected areas system and to identify and evaluate adaptation options. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, and Parks Canada Agency participated in an international effort to produce the Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate (Brock et al.,2012), which provides advice on MPA network design processes that adapt to and mitigate anticipated effects of climate change on marine ecosystems.
    • Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have recently taken significant steps and made significant achievements in protecting the boreal's massive carbon stores, increasing the protected proportion of the boreal from 7.3% to 9.0% since 2005.
      • Manitoba protected over 19 000 km2 of boreal forest, adding four large northern protected areas, permanently protecting Birch Island Provincial Park and designating two traditional use planning areas in the boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The Asatiwisipe Aki and Pimitotah traditional use planning areas were designed and designated in conjunction with Poplar River First Nation and Bloodvein First Nation respectively.
      • In 2008, Ontario announced the intent to permanently protect more than half of its northern boreal forest in collaboration with local indigenous communities, highlighting the important role protecting these natural carbon sinks represents in mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.
      • Quebec announced the Plan Nord in 2011, an exemplary, sustainable development project covering the northern two thirds of Quebec's total territory, or 1.2 million km2. The Plan Nord will reserve 50% of the area for non-industrial uses such as environmental and biodiversity protection.Also, Quebec has proposed the creation of Albanel- Temiscame-Otish National Park (provisional name), a large park of over 11 000 km2 located in the boreal forest.
  • Coastal organizations note that protected area planning must consider the potential impacts of sea level rise on shoreline and upland ecosystems, including susceptibility to erosion and loss along coastal stretches, as well as the future conservation of ecosystems that may form with rising sea levels (e.g., coastal bogs transitioning to salt marshes, drumlins transitioning to islands).

Protected Areas As A Solution To Climate Change

Organizations across Canada are promoting the role of protected areas in helping ecosystems, species and human communities adapt to and mitigate climate change. Efforts by government, private and Aboriginal agencies to increase the number, size, density and connectedness of protected areas are all part of the solution to climate change. The protection of large, intact terrestrial and marine ecosystems will provide refuges for wildlife, including species at risk. Connectivity between protected areas facilitates species movement and gene flow, and this resilience will be particularly important in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The 2007 Protected Areas And Climate Change Survey

The University of Waterloo and CCEA carried out a collaborative Protected Areas and Climate Change (PACC) Survey in 2007 (updated in 2009) to assess the state of current efforts on climate change adaptation employed by Canadian protected areas agencies and organizations. Among their key findings (Lemieux et al., 2010):

  • No agencies surveyed currently have a climate change adaptation strategy or action plan in effect.
  • Agencies expressed a need for more information on the ecological consequences of climate change and the implications of climate change for policy, planning and management strategies.
  • A large majority (94%) of the respondents indicated that they wanted "much more" or "some more" information on strategies for managerial response (adaptation) to climate change impacts and strategies for effective communication of climate change issues respectively.
  • While the PACC Survey did reveal a strong motivation by protected areas agencies and organizations to move forward on climate change adaptation, most acknowledged that they are uncertain about how to proceed.
  • 91% of agencies took the position that they currently do not have the capacity necessary to deal with climate change issues.
  • The PACC Survey revealed a clear disconnect between the perceived salience of the possible impacts of climate change on protected areas and a lack of available resources to address the issue (e.g., specifically, there is a shortage of financial resources, staffing and scientific expertise).
  • Case studies on current Canadian initiatives relevant to protected areas and climate change revealed wide-ranging activities across the country, but no unified comprehensive approach to climate change.

For more information, see PDF file

Intergovernmental Network And System Planning

MPA organizations are leading the way in intergovernmental network planning with the 2011 National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas. Almost all terrestrial organizations cooperate with neighbouring organizations or federal agencies on establishment of protected areas.

Marine Protected Areas

  • Intergovernmental cooperation is a fundamental tenet of planning Canada's MPA network. As part of the National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected AreasTable Footnote 15 led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, marine organizations work together through an MPA Network Community of Practice.
  • In Quebec, collaboration on MPA network planning is undertaken  via the Bilateral Group on Marine Protected Areas established in 2007 and, more recently, through the framework of the 2011–2026 St. Lawrence Action Plan.
  • Specific examples of intergovernmental cooperation in MPA network planning include:
    • Canada and Quebec recently signed the 2011–2026 St. Lawrence Action Plan. The Coordination Committee on MPAs under the Agreement, co-led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, and involving Parks Canada Agency and Environment Canada among others, will be responsible for MPA network planning in the St. Lawrence Estuary and part of the Gulf.
    • Multiple federal agencies and provincial ministries have established a federal-provincial working group called the Marine Protected Areas Implementation Team to deliver Canada's Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast.
    • Nova Scotia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have collaborated on the identification and implementation of the St. Ann's Bank Area of Interest.

National Framework For Canada's Network Of Marine Protected Areas

On September 1, 2011, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial members of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers reviewed and approved in principle the National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas.

This represents an important step towards achieving the CBD international target of conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The Framework provides strategic direction for the design of a national network of MPAs that will be composed of 13 bioregional networks covering Canada's oceans and Great Lakes.

Study Regarding The Establishment Of A Marine Protected Area Around The Îles-De-La-Madeleine

The governments of Canada and Quebec agreed that it is in their mutual interest to ensure adequate protection of marine biodiversity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, specifically the Îles-de-la-Madeleine maritime plateau. Parks Canada Agency and the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec are working in partnership with a multidisciplinary team from the Université du Québec à Rimouski and the Centre de recherche sur les milieux insulaires et maritimes to assess the possibility of establishing an MPA around the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. This study will take into account the views of local communities by including local ecological knowledge and calling on experts from the community.

Researchers will develop an overview of the marine elements of the area and scenarios for the protection and heritage preservation of this marine environment. The cooperation of a number of departments and community organizations, which are contributing their expertise and providing data, is essential to the success of this project.

An advisory committee composed of community members has been formed to involve interested organizations and provide a forum for locals to express their concerns. Aboriginal communities with interests in the study area will also be consulted.

The study will take two years to complete. The findings, expected in the spring of 2014, will help governments to determine if an MPA proposal is feasible and, if so, under what conditions.

Terrestrial protected areas

  • Establishing national parks in Canada typically involves years of significant collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and Aboriginal groups. For example, Parks Canada Agency is working closely with Newfoundland and Labrador towards the establishment of the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park and an adjacent provincial park, and with Nova Scotia on the establishment of a national park on Sable Island.
  • A number of new interprovincial protected areas were established in 2006-2011, including the Kakwa- Willmore Interprovincial Park designated in 2006 between Alberta and British Columbia, and the Manitoba-Ontario Interprovincial Wilderness Area in 2008, encompassing more than 9400 km2 of existing protected areas and park lands. The latter initiative is in collaboration with First Nations and contributed to the proposed Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site.
  • All protected area organizations are members of the Canadian Parks Council (with the exception of Fisheries and Oceans Canada), the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program (with the exception of Quebec and Fisheries and Oceans Canada), and CCEA. Others participate in a number of international initiatives, including the IUCN, Circumpolar Protected Area Network of the Arctic Council, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation for Wilderness and Protected Area Conservation.
  • CARTS was formally launched in 2008 in its present form, providing a Web-based platform to which all federal, provincial and territorial protected area organizations in Canada provide basic data on protected areas, such as size, location, boundaries and IUCN management categories.

Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site Project

This project is a collaboration of five First Nations- Bloodvein River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, Pikangikum and Poplar River-and the governments of Manitoba and Ontario.

The Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids community- based land use plans contribute to protection of 34 500 km2 and support the Pimachiowin Aki bid for World Heritage Site proclamation by UNESCO.

The project's goal is to secure world heritage status for the largest protected-area network in the North American boreal shield. After five years of planning and research, as of December 2011 the group was poised to submit a nomination to recognize Pimachiowin Aki as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nomination is the first that Canada has submitted based on both natural and cultural heritage values.

For more information, see Pimachiowin Aki.

North American Protected Areas Jurisdictions Working Together: Protected Areas As Natural Solutions For Climate Change

The North American Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation for Wilderness and Protected Area Conservation has a bold vision encompassing networks of protected lands and waters that connect and restore important habitats, provide safe havens for species under changing environmental conditions, and enable ecosystems and people to respond and adapt to change.

Delivering on this vision requires an unprecedented level of collaboration at local, regional and continental scales. Through the Committee, Mexico, the United States and Canada will share knowledge about

how protected areas will help us respond to climate change, which will inform work in North America and hopefully inspire other countries to develop nature- based solutions to climate change. It will also increase partnerships for development of protected areas networks in areas of shared habitat such as marine systems, grasslands, wetlands and coastal mountains.

For more information, see fichier PDF.

Tracking Canada's Protected Areas

CCEA leads the maintenance and continuing development of CARTS, a national portal to enable standardized compilation and mapping of Canada's protected areas data, as well as public access to the data. CARTS evolved from previous registries managed by the CCEA since 1982.

CARTS enables both scientists and policy-makers to assess Canada's growing network of protected areas using a single, authoritative database. It also helps Canada to fulfill national and international reporting obligations.

The CARTS project is a partnership of federal, provincial and territorial protected areas organizations via the CCEA, and is managed by Environment Canada.

For more information, see CCEA.

Aboriginal Participation In Protected Area Planning

Aboriginal peoples have participated in the establishment of tens of thousands of square kilometres of protected areas designated during the reporting period 2006-2011, through modern land claims, treaties, other agreements or collaborative land use plans (Table 8).

Most current protected area establishment processes in Canada involve working together with Aboriginal organizations and communities to conserve biodiversity and cultural heritage, to cooperate on protected area management and to share the benefits of protected areas. These organizations and communities traditionally place high importance on conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and therefore are often the strongest proponents of protected areas.

Aboriginal Peoples And Canada's Parks And Protected Areas

The Canadian Parks Council recently published a compendium of case studies that demonstrates the unique and substantial contribution of Aboriginal people to diverse areas of protected areas planning and management. The compendium is entitled Aboriginal Peoples and Canada's Parks and Protected Areas (CPC, 2011a).

The case studies provide insights and lessons that can contribute to building and enhancing collaborative relationships between Aboriginal peoples and parks agencies.

Parks agencies identified three main factors in the success of the initiatives featured in the case studies:

  • Community leadership in articulating a vision for the sustainable use and protection of their traditional lands;
  • Time, patience, trust and dedication in developing and nurturing a meaningful partnership
  • between the parks agency and the Aboriginal community(ies); and Recognition of the importance of cultural resources and traditional knowledge as an expression of Aboriginal peoples' history and relationship to the land.

For more information, see Aboriginal Peoples and Canada's Parks and Protected Areas.

  • Mechanisms for this involvement include modern land claims, treaties and other agreements, collaborative land use plans, and engagement and consultation processes. The federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada also have a duty to consult on resource decisions that impact Aboriginal peoples. During the reporting period:
    • Five new protected areas proposed for the Northwest Territories under its Protected Areas Strategy were championed by First Nations, and seen as partial fulfillment of the recommendations made by the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry.
    • The establishment of new protected areas in Nunavut was guided by the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement and the subsequent Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreements for Parks and Conservation Areas. The 2007 Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Environment Canada protected areas led to the creation of three new National Wildlife Areas on Baffin Island totalling 4554 km2.
    • In the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba, new protected areas were identified jointly by Aboriginal peoples and
    • governments through community-based land use planning (see Integrated landscape management, below). Organizations count these land use plans among their most significant protected areas achievements over the past five years.
  • Two organizations established protected areas under new designations that recognize the importance of areas to First Nations, and collaborative working relationships with them: Manitoba created "Traditional Use Planning Areas," and British Columbia created a new "Conservancy" designation.
  • Yukon, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec identify collaborative relationships with Aboriginal peoples among the top priorities for the next five years.

Stewardship In The Whitefeather Forest Planning Area In Northwestern Ontario--A Collaborative Approach

"Our customary stewardship approach (Ahneesheenahbay kahnahwaycheekahwin) has some important implications for conservation practices (kaysheebeemahcheecheekahtahk) in the Whitefeather Forest Planning Area...

"We have always managed our Ahneesheenahbay otahkeem as a whole. We have never divided our land into zones that are either set aside for developmentor for protection...

"Stewardship and Protection activities in the Whitefeather Forest Planning Area will be developed out of a collaborative approach that integrates the Ahneeshsheenahbay kahnahwaycheekahwin of Pikangikum First Nation and the ecosystem-based resource stewardship approach of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources."

From Keeping the Land-A Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather Forest and Adjacent Areas (Pikangikum First Nation and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2006)

For more information, see White Feather Forest - Keeping the Land (PDF file).

Table 8 : Examples of protected areas resulting from a modern land claim, treaty, agreement or land use plan in 2006–2011

Protected area(s) and uear designation
Total area designated
Tarium Niryutait MPA (2010)
1 740 km2
SGaan Kinghlas--Bowie Seamount MPA (2008)
6 131 km2
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (1996)
1 474 km2
Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve (2005)
9 700 km2
Poplar River First Nation Traditional Use Planning Area
8 076 km2
Bloodvein First Nation Traditional Use Planning Area
1 326 km2
Five designated Protected Areas under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act (various dates)
3 495 km2
Dedicated protected areas under the Far North Act, 2010 (not yet designated)
7 930 km2
Kuururjuaq National Park (2009)
4 460 km2
Assinica National Park Reserve (2011)
3 193 km2
Pingualiut National Park (2004)
1 134 km2
Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area (2010)
3 364 km2
Akpait National Wildlife Area (2010)
792 km2
Qaqulluit National Wildlife Area (2010)
398 km2
53 213 km2

Defining An Approach To Cultural Landscape Planning In Canada's North

Nunavut Parks and Special Places recently initiated a "cultural landscape-based approach" to protected areas planning that emphasizes the integration of humans

and nature. Nunavut Parks has been working with Inuit and residents of Clyde River to create a model for a proposed Territorial Park that may be used to assess

the value of cultural landscapes across Nunavut.

In 2006, following several years of research and assessment, the Inuit and local residents of Clyde River recommended a park boundary for a proposed Territorial Park. The proposed park would protect important archaeological and cultural sites, valuable

wildlife habitat, and significant tourism and recreation opportunities. In keeping with the Umbrella Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement, the next step in park

establishment will involve a cultural heritage assessment (unique to Environment Canada) that will capture Inuit Traditional Knowledge and maintain a record of oral histories and knowledge related to park landscapes.

For more information on this case study, see Aboriginal Peoples and Canada's Parks and Protected Areas (CPC, 2011a) at Peuples autochtones, les parcs et aires protégées du Canada.

Collaborative Efforts With Non-Government Environmental Or Conservation Organizations

Across Canada's highly populated southern landscapes, provincial governments are increasingly recognizing privately held conservation lands as an integral component of their protected area networks.

  • Five provinces (SK, MB, QC, NB and PE) formally include private conservation lands in their protected areas systems or networks (totalling 1151 km2), while others are exploring ways to account for the contribution of private lands to protected area strategies. For example, with less than 10% provincially owned land in Prince Edward Island, that province relies on private landowners to achieve the goal of protecting 7% of its land area.
  • New partnerships with private land conservation agencies were counted among organizations' most significant protected areas achievements over the past five years:
    • Manitoba signed Memoranda of Agreement with three conservation agencies to ensure that their private lands in the protected area network meet Manitoba's standard of protection, including the permanent withdrawal of subsurface mineral rights.
    • A partnership between Newfoundland and Labrador and the NCC resulted in the Conservation Blueprint Project, compiling background data on natural features and land use information for Labrador.
    • The Nature Conservancy of Canada (PEI) Corporation was established and began partnering with the province to acquire and protect natural areas.
  • New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (where between 50-90% of the land base is privately held [Table 9]) report that protection of private lands is among their top priorities for the next three to five years, due to intense competition for land use, large proportions of privately owned properties and high conservation value of areas on private land. In 2008, Nova Scotia established the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust to provide $23.4 million as partial funding to Land Trusts to secure and protect ecologically significant, threatened and irreplaceable natural areas on private lands by 2023. These secured lands are to be protected according to IUCN standards for Category I, II or III protected areas, and are intended to help meet the province's protected area goal.

Natural Areas Conservation Program

The Government of Canada announced a $225 million investment in the Natural Areas Conservation Program in 2007. The program helps non-profit NGOs to secure ecologically sensitive lands.

Based on an agreement between Environment Canada and the NCC, NCC will acquire full or partial interest in those nationally or provincially significant lands that protect habitat for species at risk and migratory birds, or that enhance connectivity or corridors between existing protected areas such as National Wildlife Areas, National Parks and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. NCC will also partner with non-government conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited Canada, Conservation Authorities (Ontario) and other qualified land trusts to implement the program. These organizations will provide matching funds for the federal investment.

As of December 2011, the Program had protected 3278 km2 of habitat including habitat for 117 species at risk.

Table 9. Private lands in provincial protected areas systems or networks

Proportion of overall land area that is privately held
Degree that private lands are accounted for in provincial protected areas system or network
6 %
A small number of private lands are leased to the Ministry of Environment to manage and incorporate in a protected area designation. A larger number of lands have been leased to the province as part of the conservation lands system. These lands are not formally recognized as part of the Province's Protected Areas Strategy.
28 %
Not formally recognized as part of PAS.
5 % in north; 80 % in south
Conservation easements on private lands make up 1.5% of protected areas. These lands are becoming increasingly important in the southern agricultural portion of the province.
15 %
Private sites include those administered by a number of NGOs and formally recognized as part of the protected areas network.
13 %
Properties that are formally identified for regulation as provincial parks or conservation reserves are also formally recognized as part of PAS. Broader arrays of secured lands are recognized as contributing significantly to the overall natural heritage areas system but are not included in calculations of life science representation.
8 %
Private land conservation part of QC's strategy, under legal designation of "Nature Reserve." Other private sites administered by a number of NGOs and dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and natural process are recognized as Natural Areas Under Private Stewardship, contributing to the province's 12%-by-2015 goal.
50 %
Private properties are accounted for only if they are designated by regulation under the Protected Natural Areas Act. NB currently has one private land protected area.
70 %
Lands secured by land trusts and which are primarily dedicated to the protection of native biodiversity and natural processes are recognized as contributing to the province's 12%-by-2015 goal. .
90 %
Collaboration with NGOs, land trusts and private individuals are key elements of PE's protected area effort.
< 5 %
Where private lands administered by an NGO have been selected based on compatible criteria, and where a management regime is in place. A number of such sites are awaiting mineral exempt status before being listed as protected areas.

Major Players In Private Land Conservation In Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) secures important natural areas through purchase, donation or other mechanisms, and manages these properties for the long term. The NCC has protected 10 000 km2 across the country since it was established in 1962.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. By the end of 2011, DUC had secured 25 000 km2 through land purchase, management agreements, conservation easements and leases since it was founded in 1938.

Together, the NCC and DUC make up almost 60% of all of the private land conservation holdings in Canada.

Collectively, Ontario Conservation Authorities

own and protect approximately 1440 km2 (mostly in southern Ontario, where 90% of Ontario's population lives), more land than the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources owns in southern Ontario including forests, wetlands, areas of natural and scientific interest, recreational lands, natural heritage and cultural sites as well as land for flood and erosion control.

There are about 140 land trusts in Canada. The Canadian Land Trust Alliance (CLTA) was established in 2006 to strengthen and promote voluntary conservation of private property. CLTA membership represents 55 groups including provincial land trust alliances, watershed trusts and community- based land trusts, which have collectively protected over 25 000 km2 of land.

Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts Program offers significant tax benefits to landowners who donate land or a partial interest in land to a qualified recipient, including federal or provincial governments and environmental NGOs such as those described above, to ensure that the land's biodiversity and environmental heritage are conserved in perpetuity.

Long-Time Barrier To Protection Of American- Owned Land In Canada Removed

American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts is a charity established by land conservation leaders on both sides of the border to provide the legal mechanism needed to make "cross border" land conservation possible. However, until recently, Americans who wished to protect land in Canada were required to pay Canadian capital gains tax on their conservation gift. In October 2010, the Government of Canada modified Income Tax Act regulations to remove the capital gains tax on cross-border gifts of lands to the American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts.

The associated Cross Border Land Conservation Program opens the door for Canadian land trusts to protect more of Canada's natural legacy.

  • Government-environmental NGO partnerships continue to leverage public funds to implement stewardship agreements on private lands throughout southern Canada. For example, the federal government announced a $225 million investment in the Natural Areas Conservation Program in 2007.
  • A number of important government incentives exist to facilitate private land securement:
    • In the last five years, Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts Program has almost doubled the number of donations or easements to more than 950, and tripled the total area to over 1449 km2 of ecologically sensitive lands. More than one third of these ecological gifts contain areas designated as being of national or provincial significance, and many are home to species at risk. Tax benefits for land donations are in place in half of Canada's protected area organizations to facilitate land trust organizations or others in securing private lands of ecological significance. Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have joined the federal government and five other provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island) since 2005, reporting that they now have these measures in place.
    • In 2007, the Government of Canada removed a long-time barrier to the protection of lands in Canada owned by citizens of the U.S.
    • In 2009, Manitoba agreed to provide $7.0 million in support of the Natural Areas Conservation Program, which resulted in $21 million in total spending, including contributions from the NCC, private donors and the federal government.
    • New Brunswick committed $1.5 million in 2010 to be matched by NCC and federal funding.
    • Saskatchewan, NCC and matching federal dollars protected Big Valley Property in Saskatchewan's Qu'Appelle Valley.
    • Nova Scotia created its Conservation Property Tax Exemption Act in 2008, which eliminates property taxes paid by private land owners who legally protect their lands for ecological protection. The provincial government pays municipalities a grant in lieu so that the tax revenue is not lost to them.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada administers the Community Pasture Program, which manages nearly 10 000 km2 in 85 pastures in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The pastures represent some of the largest contiguous blocks of grasslands in Canada and are examples of functional prairie ecosystems. The pastures contribute to international conservation objectives related to biological diversity, climate change and protected areas (AAFC, 2005).
  • The Canadian protected areas community, including the CCEA, and NGOs are in discussions regarding the tracking of conservation areas that are important to biodiversity conservation and can be reported nationally even if they do not meet the IUCN standards for international reporting.

Resource Industry Support For Protected Areas

In most organizations, leading resource industries in various sectors are supporting the completion of protected area networks as a means to provide protection certainty and demonstrate corporate social responsibility, although temporary measures are often preferred over permanent instruments.

  • Three quarters of protected area organizations (13 of 17) report ongoing relationships in place with relevant resource sectors (EC, DFO, NT, NU, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS and NL).
  • Resource industries in the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador have specifically endorsed the government's protected areas strategy. In some organizations, industry representatives participate on committees that advise on the protected area strategy (DFO, NT, SK and NB).
  • Many provinces and territories (BC, AB, SK, MB, ON and QC) report that the resource industry and Crown energy corporations are engaged in land use planning processes where candidate protected areas are identified. Some terrestrial organizations report that resource development companies have voluntarily withdrawn land or access rights to allow the establishment of protected areas (PCA, NT, BC, AB, SK, MB and NS). Some of these are temporary measures intended to allow further discussions, as trade-offs are part of the final boundary delineation. As well, companies generally prefer temporary measures for the protection of lands that contain highly valuable surface or subsurface resources.

The Coast Forest Conservation Initiative: An Unprecedented Collaboration For Managing The British Columbia Coast

In 1995, five British Columbia forest products producers-BC Timber Sales, Catalyst Paper Corporation, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, International Forest Products, and Western Forest Products-set out to support development of an ecosystem-based conservation and management plan for a region of British Columbia encompassing the Central Coast and North Coast. The region is often referred to as the Great Bear Rainforest, and contains one of the largest intact temperate rainforests in the world.

Almost 15 years later, after an independent comprehensive scientific study of the region and much multi-interest negotiation, a plan to protect this globally significant temperate rainforest region on Canada's Pacific Coast was endorsed by the British Columbia government, First Nations, environmental groups, forest companies and coastal communities. These parties continue to collaborate on the implementation of the plan.

The forest and paper industry praised the achievement as one that would bring certainty for businesses operating in the area and certainty for customers seeking environmentally appropriate forest products.

The process and final plan for the region informed establishment of protected areas, including 115 Conservancies with a total area of 1 360 000 hectares, legislated between 2006 and 2008. In total, over 2.1 million hectares are protected throughout the Central and North Coast region.

For more information, see Coast Forest Conservation Initiative.

Help From The Forest Industry In Achieving Nova Scotia's 12% Protected Area Goal

Nova Scotia needs to protect about 1500 km2 of additional lands to reach its goal of legally protecting 12% of the province's land area by 2015, as outlined in its Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act 2007.

In November 2009, the government received the Colin Stewart Forest Forum Final Report (Colin Stewart Forest Forum Steering Committee, 2009), prepared by the province's four largest forestry companies (Bowater Mersey, JD Irving Ltd., Northern Pulp and NewPage Port Hawkesbury) and the leading environmental NGOs operating in Nova Scotia (Ecology Action Centre, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Nova Scotia Nature Trust, and Nature Conservancy of Canada).

Preparation of the report sought to resolve some of the conflict between industry and environmental interests over wilderness lands, by recommending 2690 km2 of high conservation value land that might be considered for the protected area network, including provincial Crown lands and some lands owned by major forestry companies.

The recommended areas became, in large part, lands now under review in the provincial government's 12%-by-2015 process.

For more information, see Nova Scotia Canada - Parks and Protected Areas .

Integrated Landscape Management What Is Integrated Landscape

Most provinces and territories are working to incorporate sustainable development principles and practices into land management frameworks. Few incorporate all the elements of integrated landscape management (ILM) systems. However, integrated land use planning processes-an important decision-making component of ILM- cover an estimated 17% of the total land area in Canada and, where they are present, provide the principal approach to identifying protected areas.

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec report almost all of their territory covered by an integrated land use planning process. The Northwest Territories, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have completed, or are in the process of completing, integrated land use plans for between one and two-thirds of their area (Figure 12).

In all three northern territories, integrated land use planning is underway or being planned through land claim processes. Land use planning processes are underway for about two-thirds of the Northwest Territories. The Nunavut Planning Commission, established under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, is working with the territorial and federal governments and other interested parties to establish broad planning policies, objectives and goals for Nunavut. In Yukon, Land Use Planning Commissions recommend comprehensive land use plans to Yukon Government and respective First Nations for final approval.

What Is Integrated Landscape Management ?

Integrated landscape management enables decision makers, and society as a whole, to set and achieve landscape-level objectives for sustainable development and sustainable ecosystems over appropriate spatial and temporal scales.

-Canadian Integrated Landscape

Management Coalition (2005)

  • Landscape connectivity measures used to increase the effectiveness of protected areas vary among organizations. Less than one third (5 out of 16) report using direct measures such as protected buffers, corridors or stepping stones. More than half of terrestrial organizations use indirect measures, such as the environmental assessment process that considers impact on protected areas and non-regulatory designations (World Heritage Site, model forest, etc.), which can contribute to connectivity if used appropriately (Table 10).

Figure 12: Percent of jurisdictional territory covered by integrated land use planning processes

Percent of jurisdictional territory covered by integrated land use planning processes

Long description for Figure 12

Total lands in protected areas larger and smaller than 3000 km2



Table 10 : Landscape/seascape connectivity measures in place around protected area

Table 10a. Terrestrial organizations reporting having the measure in place
Landscape connectivity measuresNumber (Total of 16)Name
Protected area(s) used for corridors/buffers/stepping stones5EC, YT, BC, ON, NS
Legislated/regulatory-based buffer measures5YT, NU, AB, NB, PE.
Policy guidance for networking protected areas7EC, YT, NT, BC, ON, NS, NL
Non-regulatory designation (World Heritage Site, model forest, etc.)9PCA, EC, YT, BC, AB, SK, ON, QC, NS
Environmental assessment process that considers impact on protected areas10YT, NT, BC, AB, MB, ON, QC, PE, NS, NL
Policy guidance to government on activities around protected areas6YT, BC, AB, MB, PE, NS
Policy guidance to industry on activities around protected areas5YT, BC, AB, MB, PE
Table 10b. Marine organizations reporting having the measure in place
Landscape connectivity measuresNumber (Total of 9)Name
Protected area(s) used for corridors/buffers/stepping stones1BC
Legislated/regulatory-based buffer measures1DFO
Policy guidance for networking protected areas2DFO, BC
Non-regulatory designation (World Heritage Site, model forest, etc.)1BC
Environmental assessment process that considers impact on protected areas5DFO, BC, MB, QC, NL
Policy guidance to government on activities around protected areas2BC, MB
Policy guidance to industry on activities around protected areas3DFO, BC, MB

Protected Area Designation Through Integrated Land Use Planning Processes: Some Examples

More than 90% of British Columbia has strategic land use plans approved or being developed. In July 2011, the Atlin Taku Land Use Plan was approved by the Province of British Columbia and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. The Atlin-Taku region covers 30 000 km2-nearly the size of Vancouver Island-and is characterized as "virtually pristine," with few roads intruding on its high alpine landscapes, wild rivers, boreal wilderness and temperate rainforests. About 18% of the Atlin-Taku planning area, or 5 650 km2, was recommended for designation as new protected areas, bringing the total in the land use planning area to 26%, protecting areas of exceptional conservation value and strong Aboriginal and community interest. For more information, see British Colombia Sign Land Deal.

As of December 2011, land use planning processes are underway for about two thirds of the Northwest Territories. These land use planning processes are carried out in a broader context of resource co-management. The Dehcho Region (16% of the Northwest Territories) and Sahtu Settlement Area (21% of the Northwest Territories) are currently completing land use processes. The linkage between land use planning processes and the establishment of formal protected areas varies from region to region. The draft land use plans for the Dehcho and Sahtu regions recognize areas that are going through the protected areas designation process and explicitly link the establishment of conservation zones with the potential for permanently protected areas. In contrast, the Gwich'in Settlement Area's land use plan does not address the possibility of any of the identified conservation zones becoming permanently protected areas. For more information, see Northwest Territories Gouvernment.

The Labrador Inuit Settlement Area Draft Land Use Plan is currently under development by the Regional Planning Authority established under the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement. This plan will cover northern Labrador, comprising 72 520 km2 or approximately 18% of the province, and guide the use of land, water and natural resources; and optimize social, cultural and economic benefits for the Labrador Inuit and other residents. Land use designations include National Park Designation- the area encompasses the Torngat Mountains National Park and the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park-and an Environmentally Sensitive Area Designation. For more information, see lisapla/Not Good Link.

The pending Pink Lake Representative Area Ecological Reserve resulted in a land use planning process and will be the largest provincially designated protected area in Saskatchewan.

Community-Based Land Use Planning In The Far North Of Ontario

Ontario announced in 2008 a land use planning initiative for the province's Far North that accounts for 42% of the province's territory. The initiative will involve the protection of at least 225 000 km2-an area three times the size of Lake Superior-in a network of conservation lands. The Far North Act, 2010 was passed in 2010 to provide for community-based land use planning that directly involves First Nations in the planning, and supports the environmental, social and economic objectives for land use planning for the peoples of Ontario.

As of December 2011, four plans have been approved totalling more than 12 000 km2 of dedicated protected area, which prohibits: prospecting, mining claim staking and mineral exploration; opening a mine; commercial timber harvesting; and oil and gas exploration or production. Following approval of the plans, First Nations' councils may request regulation of the Designated Protected Areas under Ontario's Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, which requires that the area have management direction. For example, completion of Keeping the Land-A Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather Forest and Adjacent Areas (Pikangikum First Nation and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2006), and regulation of five Designated Protected Areas within it under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, added 3 495 km2 of regulated provincial park to Ontario's protected areas system.

The Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids community- based land use plans support the Pimachiowin Aki bid for World Heritage Site proclamation.

For more information, see Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Protected area designations in community land use plans under the Far North Act, 2010

Community-based land use plans
Plan area
Dedicated protected areas
A Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather Forest and Adjacent Areas (June 2006) (grandfathered)
12 217 km2
4 360 km2 (36 %)
Pauingassi Community Based Land Use Plan (July 2011)
1 388 km2
321 km2 (77 %)
Little Grand Rapids Community Based Land Use Plan (July 2011)
1 887 km2
1 887 km2 (100 %)
Cat Lake-Slate Falls Community Based Land Use Plan (July 2011)
15 120 km2
5 063 km2 (34 %)
30 613 km2
12 377 km2 (40 %)
  • Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have used forest management planning in certain areas to identify protected areas opportunities. These planning processes account for other potential land uses (oil and gas, mining, etc.). Saskatchewan uses landscape-level integrated land use planning that includes zoning areas for various activities, including oil and gas, mining and industrial development as well as forest management planning.
  • In addition to protecting valuable natural assets, the 1151 km2 of private conservation lands in Canada may provide buffers, and connecting corridors within systems and networks of government protected areas, helping to protect biodiversity and facilitate the movement of species across the landscape.

Integrated Oceans Management

Integrated management planning has moved from the planning phase to the implementation phase in the five pilot Government of Canada Large Oceans Management Areas. Three Oceans Act MPAs totalling 7878 km2-Bowie Seamount, Musquash Estuary and Tarium Niryutait-were established between 2006 and 2011 as part of this process.

  • About 40% of Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone, which falls under Fisheries and Oceans Canada jurisdiction, has undergone integrated oceans management planning in five Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs): the Beaufort Sea, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Pacific North Coast, Placentia Bay/ Grand Banks and Eastern Scotian Shelf. Fisheries and Oceans Canada Oceans Act MPAs have been identified and established in the context of integrated oceans management, with three established between 2006-2011. Implementation of integrated oceans management will generally be risk-based with more targeted engagement, and will likely extend beyond LOMAs into bioregions over time as resources allow.
  • British Columbia has completed eight coastal and marine plans and is currently engaged in three integrated marine planning processes: the Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast, Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area and West Coast Aquatic. In Quebec, the planning framework for the future MPA network is the St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2026. Newfoundland and Labrador published its Provincial Coastal and Oceans Management Strategy and Policy Framework in 2010, which includes a strategic objective "to maintain and protect coastal ecosystems, particularly regions of significant ecological importance."
  • Environmental assessment is considered the most commonly reported measure in place, with potential relevance to assure connectivity among MPAs (Table 10). Contributory sites may also promote connectivity within the existing MPA network.

What Is Integrated Oceans Management ?

Integrated management is the current approach to managing Canada's ocean resources. It is a collaborative way of making decisions on how Canada's marine resources can best be developed and protected.

-Fisheries and Oceans Canada (retrieved from DFO website 2013-10-10)

For more information, see Integrated Management of Ocean Resources.

Integrated Oceans Management And Marine Protected Area Establishment In The Beaufort Sea

The Beaufort Sea Large Ocean Management Area is one of five priority areas identified for integrated ocean management planning by the Government of Canada. It covers the marine portion of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, more than 1 million square kilometres.

Several years of planning effort by multiple parties-including Aboriginal, territorial and federal government departments, coastal community residents, industry, NGOs, and academia-resulted in the Integrated Oceans Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea (Beaufort Sea Partnership, 2009). The Plan considers all users of the Beaufort Sea resources and marine environment, as well as the interactions among human activities and between those activities and the marine environment. The participating organizations agreed to collaborate in decision-making processes that influence the future of the Beaufort Sea region.

Establishing MPAs within the context of integrated oceans management facilitates stakeholder input and the consideration of broader ecological, social, cultural and economic factors. It provides an opportunity to reinforce conservation measures with complementary management regimes in surrounding areas, including linkages with land-based initiatives such as habitat protection, pollution control and the establishment of coastal terrestrial parks. This approach of nesting MPAs within broader planning initiatives helps maintain the integrity and long-term viability of the MPA.

Announced in August 2010, the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area in the Beaufort Sea is Canada's first arctic MPA and covers 1740 km2 of the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea. The purpose of the MPA is to conserve and protect its biological resources and to support the viability of a healthy population of beluga whales.

For more information, see beaufort sea partnership.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Results In Legal Protection Of The Gulf Of St. Lawrence

Given the ecological, economic, social and cultural significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there are major concerns for an adequate environmental framework to better protect the marine environment from exploration works and oil and gas operations. Concerns about the impact of these operations on ecologically and biologically sensitive areas are instrumental in the establishment of MPAs.

In September 2010, following analysis of the first strategic environmental assessment results, the Government of Quebec decided not to allow exploration or oil or gas operations in the marine territory of the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary and the northwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The government adopted the Act to Limit Oil and Gas Activities in 2011, which prohibits exploration works and oil and gas operations in the section of the St. Lawrence River located upstream of the western portion of Anticosti Island as well as on the islands in this part of the river, up to the Ontario border in Cornwall.

The second strategic environmental assessment covers the Baie des Chaleurs, Anticosti and Magdalen Islands basins. The final report should be submitted by 2013.


Text Content Footnote


The National Ecological Framework for Canada delineates, classifies and describes ecologically distinct areas of the earth's surface at different levels of generalization using various abiotic and biotic factors at each of the levels. This hierarchical classification evolved with seven levels of generalization, including ecozones, ecoprovinces, ecoregions and ecodistricts (Ecological Stratification Working Group, 1995). There are 194 ecoregions in Canada.

Return to Footnote 10 referrer


Tracking protected area coverage has been suggested as one of the provisional indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 biodiversity target (CBD Decision VIII/15, 2006). Protected area coverage is also one of the indicators for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals at the national level (Indicator 7.6: Proportion of terrestrial and marine area protected). (Coad et al., 2009)

Return to Footnote 11 referrer


The 3000 km2 figure is taken from Wiersma et al. (2005). This minimum reserve area is estimated based on historical species distributions in terrestrial areas. It should be noted that in the highly fragmented landscapes of southern Canada, many species that were historically present and that required large tracts of unfragmented habitat have been extirpated, and remaining wildlife may have smaller area requirements.

Return to Footnote 12 referrer


Canada's bioregional units for MPA network planning include a Great Lake bioregion, and Great Lake sites are considered as part of their network. However, for the purposes of this status report, Great Lakes areas are considered freshwater and not marine.

Return to Footnote 13 referrer


PDF file

Return to Footnote 14 referrer


The chairs of three federal-provincial-territorial councils signed the Framework: Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the Canadian Parks Ministers' Council and the Wildlife Ministers' Council of Canada. Although the Government of Quebec supports the principles underpinning the National Framework, it did not participate in the Oceans Task Group that reports to this Council. Quebec contributes by sharing information and best practices for MPAs.

Return to Footnote 15 referrer

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