Government announces $200M to restore carbon-rich ecosystems

Gabriel Brunet

The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented climate and ecological crisis. Climate change is warming our planet and altering the water cycle, resulting in extreme temperatures, flooding, droughts, and wildfires. It’s also contributing to the destruction of our planet’s rich biodiversity, which negatively impacts our communities and our quality of life, and threatens the livelihoods of Canadians who rely on it. Protecting more nature across Canada directly addresses these challenges.

“Canada is home to 24 percent of the world’s wetlands, 25 percent of temperate rainforest areas, and 28 percent of remaining boreal forests,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “These ecosystems are globally significant for absorbing carbon, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and protecting biodiversity. Investments to conserve, restore, and enhance these vital ecosystems and increase their resilience support our targets to address climate change and contribute to Canada’s efforts to transition to a net-zero economy by 2050, help stem biodiversity loss, and contribute to job creation in the green economy.”

Nature-based solutions are among the most powerful tools we have to address climate change. They leverage the power of Canada’s ecosystems to realize a number of key sustainability goals: preventing biodiversity loss, improving our resilience to extreme weather events, improving our air and water quality, securing our food supply, and capturing and storing carbon emissions that drive climate change. Actions like protecting wetlands, for example, helps capture and store carbon, while improving land management to make communities more resilient to extreme heat or flooding.

Building on Canada’s commitment to protect and conserve nature, Guilbeault recently announced that applications are now being accepted for the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. With up to $200 million available over the next five years, the funding will help individuals and organizations reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by conserving, restoring, and enhancing the management of critical ecosystems. Supported projects will focus on restoring degraded ecosystems and conserving carbon-rich areas at high risk of conversion. Proposed projects would also focus on improving land management practices, especially in the forest and urban development sectors. Funding applications for projects to be completed in 2022–2023 will be accepted until January 25, 2022.

Important work under the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, launched earlier in 2021, has already begun. Fourteen projects received funding in 2021–2022 and are projected to conserve up to 30,000 hectares; restore up to 6,000 hectares; and contribute to the enhanced management of up to 18,000 hectares of wetlands, grasslands, and riparian areas. The Fund will provide over $71 million over three years for projects, including three Prairies-based projects with Ducks Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

We can’t fight the climate or ecological crises without protecting nature—and initiatives like the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund are already making a difference in Canada’s efforts to protect 25 percent of lands and oceans by 2025, working towards 30 percent by 2030, while building community resilience.

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