CPAWS welcomes largest Canadian investment ever in nature

Federal budget investments in nature protection demonstrate a solid commitment towards addressing the biodiversity crisis

April 19, 2021, traditional unceded Algonquin Territory/Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the historic investments in nature conservation announced today by the federal government as part of Budget 2021. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled Budget 2021 – A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, which reaffirms Canada’s promises for protecting 25% of land and ocean by 2025, and commits to working towards protecting 30% by 2030, while creating good jobs in the green economy along the way.

“We’re pleased with today’s historic investments to protect nature, address biodiversity loss, and protect our species at risk,” said Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “This budget demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to responding to the biodiversity crisis that threatens our planet, and its commitment to action to protect our land, freshwater and ocean as a critical component of the pandemic recovery. At the same time, greater investment will likely be needed to get to 25% protection by 2025.”

Some of the investments for nature in Budget 2021 include the following:

  • $2.3 billion over five years to protect one million square kilometres of land and freshwater – which is equivalent to an additional 10% of Canada – including supporting Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, Indigenous Guardians programs, provincial and territorial protected areas, and protecting species at risk.
  • $976.8 million over five years to protect 25% of Canada’s ocean by 2025 through Marine Protected Areas, working towards 30% by 2030.
  • $200 million over three years supporting municipalities with natural infrastructure projects including urban parks, green spaces, waterfronts, marshes, etc.
  • $1.4 billion over 12 years to replenish the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, including $670 million dedicated to small-scale climate adaptation and mitigation projects for natural infrastructure.

The funding announced today underscores the economic value of investing in nature conservation as part of the pandemic recovery. According to the World Economic Forum, the benefits of protecting healthy ecosystems outweigh the costs by a factor of at least five to one. “During the pandemic, Canadians have turned to nature in record numbers. Today’s investments will create jobs in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities and have positive impacts on Canadians’ mental and physical health,” added Schwartz.

As a member of the Green Budget Coalition (GBC), CPAWS recommended earmarking $4.8 billion over 5 years, followed by $745 million annually thereafter, for Canada to achieve its ambitious protection goals of 25% of land, freshwater and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030. The evidence is clear that such investments in protected area establishment and management, Indigenous-led conservation, and Indigenous Guardian programs are critical to stemming biodiversity loss.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, ongoing bold action and investment will be required for Canada to reach its conservation goals,” said Schwartz. “CPAWS is looking forward to continuing to work with the Government of Canada, as well as with provinces, territories, Indigenous governments, municipalities, and other partners to deliver on Canada’s promise of a network of protected areas covering 30% of Canada by 2030.”


  • According to the World Economic Forum, half of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is moderately or highly dependent on nature and the services it provides, and the global food-, land-, and ocean-use system provides up to 40% of the world’s jobs. As a nation that relies on its rich natural resources, protecting nature and the multitude of services it provides is critical to Canada’s economic recovery.
  • Many studies done across Canada have found that natural assets, if maintained, already have tremendous value, which will increase as the climate changes. As an example, urban forests in Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax are valued at billions of dollars for ecosystem services such as control of stormwater runoff, air quality regulation, and carbon sequestration.
  • Protecting and restoring forest, grassland, and wetland (including eelgrass, saltmarsh, and riparian areas) to store and reduce greenhouse gas emissions would help to address the climate and biodiversity crises, create jobs, and expand a green economy in Canada. The same is true for using natural infrastructure solutions to increase our resilience to climate change.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates that transitioning industry to a more nature-positive model could result in up to $10 trillion USD in annual business value and could create 395 million jobs by 2030.
  • Terrestrial parks and associated visitor spending support 64,000 jobs, generate a return of six to one in GDP, and return 44% of government investment back in taxes. Canada’s parks and protected areas have become increasingly important for domestic tourism as COVID-19 restricts international travel.
  • Effective Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a key component of a strong Blue Economy. Recent studies show that protecting 30% of our ocean in effective and well-managed MPAs can restore ocean health and produce an economic return on investments of ten to one.
  • Read our backgrounder on the Economic Benefits of Protecting Nature in Canada.
  • The Green Budget Coalition (GBC) includes 25 leading environmental organizations in Canada that analyze environmental sustainability issues and provide fiscal and budgetary recommendations to the federal government. Feature recommendations for nature and biodiversity conservation include: Nature-Based Climate Solutions and Creating and Managing Protected Areas, including Indigenous protected areas and Guardians programs, among other complementary nature conservation recommendations.
  • February 2021, Hill Times Op-ed: CPAWS National Executive Director Sandra Schwartz highlights Canada’s conservation opportunity provided by U.S. President Biden’s protected areas push.
  • November 2020, Hill Times Op-Ed: CPAWS’s Sandra Schwartz calls for the federal government to follow through on conservation commitments in a COVID-busting fiscal plan.
  • Fall 2020: The federal government prioritized nature, as detailed in last fall’s Speech from the Throne and repeated by the Prime Minister at the United Nations’ first-ever Summit on Biodiversity. Canada also signed the Leader’s Pledge for Nature to put nature and climate at the heart of COVID-19 recovery and joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a group of over 50 countries championing an ambitious nature conservation agenda.
  • Summer 2020: CPAWS released a report detailing the relationship between the pandemic and terrestrial conservation and the role for nature conservation in Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean, and freshwater, and ensuring our parks and protected areas are managed to protect nature. Since 1963, we have played a leading role in protecting over half a million square kilometres. Our vision is to protect at least half of Canada’s public land and water in a framework of reconciliation – for the benefit of wildlife and people. For more information about CPAWS and the work we do to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage, visit Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Donate today. Take action.


For more information, please contact:

Tracy Walden
National Director, Communications and Development, CPAWS