Selection and management of areas

Selection Criteria


The selection of sites as NWAs begins with the identification of areas based on biological criteria. These criteria have been developed by an Environment and Climate Change Canada Canadian Wildlife Service team of habitat specialists from our headquarters and regions. Areas meeting more than one criterion may be accorded a higher importance value. In addition, areas determined to be important or critical habitat may also be assessed according to priorities for action for that area. Priority may be determined by such factors as threat, opportunity or funding.

Once a candidate area has been identified, an assessment is made of the conservation values, natural resources and other values, to help determine the proposed boundaries of the potential NWA. The boundary determination will take into account the lands and waters essential to conserving the ecosystem functions of the area and the wildlife resource. Ownership of and interests in the lands must also be taken into account. Because NWA can only be established on federally owned lands, land tenure might affect the final boundaries of the candidate site and the management mechanism needed for the area (e.g., co-management).

In accordance with its vision and guiding principles, Environment and Climate Change Canada recognizes that the management of NWA must be based on working concertedly with partners and integrating land use actions to maintain the wildlife values of the area.


The selection criteria will serve three main purposes, providing a basis for:

In developing these national criteria, it is recognized that regional applications of these criteria may require region-specific guidelines, and may further require the elaboration of region-specific criteria in some instances. In either case, the national criteria will form the minimum standard for selection nationwide.


The criteria take into account:

Criteria for Candidate National Wildlife Area

An area is considered to meet the minimum requirements of a NWA if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

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