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Government of Canada extends pilot to support innovative funding opportunities for biodiversity conservation

Press Release

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

June 4, 2024

Everyone has an important role to play in the conservation of nature: conserving and restoring habitat and protecting and recovering species at risk. That’s why the Government of Canada is finding new ways to collaboratively engage partners across all sectors to help support nature.

Today, as we celebrate Canadian Environment Week, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that the Conservation Exchange Pilot is extended until March 31, 2026. The Conservation Exchange is applying and testing a science-based, standardized measure to determine the biodiversity benefits of conservation projects.

The Conservation Exchange process begins with a business voluntarily funding a conservation organization to undertake a project to support nature. The business will receive a certificate from the Government of Canada to recognize its investments in, and contribution to, biodiversity conservation in Canada. The certificate states the biodiversity benefits realized by the project, following a science and knowledge-based assessment led by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Conservation Exchange certificates can be used to demonstrate a positive environmental impact to the business’s customers, stakeholders, and investors.

Three new projects have recently been added to the Conservation Exchange Pilot, including the following:

  • Upper St. Mary Collaborative Stewardship Program—to improve stream and riparian health in several high-priority creek systems in the southern Alberta foothills. The program involves stream rehabilitation to improve water quality and restore spawning and rearing habitat for threatened fishes, including Bull Trout and Rocky Mountain Sculpin. In collaboration with Indigenous groups and industry, this project is being carried out by Trout Unlimited Canada, with funding from TC Energy. This is part of TC Energy’s long-standing relationship with Trout Unlimited Canada.
  • Old Man on His Back Grassland Restoration for improved pollinator habitat and species at risk—to enhance native grassland habitat to improve pollinator habitat for birds and insects, benefiting several species at risk as part of a long-term restoration project. In addition, this project will use beneficial range management action to support bison grazing and invasive species management to reduce the spread of weeds and sustain rangeland services such as habitat for wildlife. This project is being carried out by Nature Conservancy of Canada and is fully funded by Aviva plc (Aviva), in Saskatchewan.
  • Dune Restoration in the Dundurn Sandhills for species at risk—to conduct prescribed burns to restore native habitat for sand dune species. Sand dunes are a rare landform that provides valuable habitat to many species at risk, some of which are exclusively found in sand dune habitat. This project is also being carried out by Nature Conservancy of Canada, with funding from Aviva, in Saskatchewan.

Businesses across Canada are reflecting on ways to improve environmental sustainability practices, and the Conservation Exchange Pilot presents a voluntary opportunity for business to invest in conserving nature. This directly supports Target 19 of the Kunming–Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to increase the level of financial resources from all sources, to support biodiversity conservation. By working together, with a whole of society approach, Canada continues to make progress toward domestic and international conservation goals and targets.

This announcement reminds us that we must work collectively to create and maintain a healthy environment that can be enjoyed by all for generations to come. To learn more about other Government of Canada initiatives, and to join in Canadian Environment Week celebrations with helpful resources and activities, visit Canadian Environment Week 2024.


“Nature has endless benefits for all of us—and in return, we all have a role to play in protecting Canada’s biodiversity. We know that businesses are looking for meaningful ways to give back to the environment, and the Government of Canada is finding ways to share the responsibility of funding all the projects required to meet our domestic and international conservation goals. This pilot brings partners together to fund and implement effective conservation projects that address the fundamental issue of biodiversity loss. Together, we can make an impact.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Trout Unlimited Canada has long been working with partners to conserve, protect, and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystems. Support from TC Energy will allow us to complete important rehabilitation work in the upper St. Mary River watershed to protect Rocky Mountain Sculpin and Bull Trout and their habitats. The Conservation Exchange Pilot is an innovative mechanism enabling effective partnerships between industry, government, and the non-profit sector to address habitat and biodiversity challenges across Canada.”

– Lesley Peterson, Director of Conservation, Trout Unlimited Canada

“TC Energy has been partnering with Trout Unlimited Canada through our social impact program, Build Strong, for the last 50 years. Our dedication to environmental stewardship underscores the value of collaborative action in proactively addressing environmental impacts and supporting a sustainable future. We are committed to investing in organizations that protect ecologically sensitive landscapes and species at risk and restore important wildlife habitats. We are honoured to be working alongside Environment and Climate Change Canada and Trout Unlimited Canada on this important initiative.”

– Sharon Tomkins, Vice-President, Sustainability and Social Impact, TC Energy

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proud to work in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Aviva plc to advance nature-based solutions through conservation in Canada. The Conservation Exchange will formally recognize these great projects for their anticipated biodiversity benefits—and it will achieve this in a way that aligns public, conservation, and business through common goals.”

– Craig Losos, Executive Director of the Nature + Climate Projects Accelerator, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“There is no pathway to a climate-positive world that does not include nature as part of the solution. Aviva is committed to funding the restoration and protection of nature as a critical part of both decarbonization and infrastructure protection. We feel fortunate to work alongside respected partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada, whose expertise and dedication to advancing this important work is invaluable.”

– Paul Fletcher, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Aviva Canada

Quick facts

  • The Conservation Exchange Pilot is funded as part of the Enhanced Nature Legacy program from Budget 2021.
  • The Conservation Exchange Pilot is the first-ever application of a government-backed, science-based certificate that applies a standardized measure of biodiversity benefits to conservation projects.
  • The Pilot is being developed and delivered in collaboration with industry associations, conservation organizations, interested provinces and territories, experts, Indigenous leaders, and other federal departments and agencies. An external working group meets quarterly to provide input and advice.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada intends to assess up to seven or eight projects through the Conservation Exchange Pilot, with the support of an external working group.
  • Projects undertaken by the Conservation Exchange Pilot will help Canada make progress on commitments to halt and reverse nature loss in the country by 2030, while achieving a full recovery for nature by 2050.
  • The Conservation Exchange Pilot is not an offsetting initiative; rather, it encourages businesses to voluntarily invest in biodiversity conservation projects. Projects are not eligible if they are required further to a regulation or statute, and certificates cannot be used to offset harm or destruction of biodiversity.

Associated links


Kaitlin Power
Senior Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)



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