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Connecting Canadians with nature

Long-term goal

Canadians are informed about the value of nature, experience nature first hand, and actively engage in its stewardship

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Why is this issue important

Connecting with nature benefits Canadians, their communities and the environment. Spending time in nature can improve physical and mental health and support children's development, while nature-based tourism provides economic benefits for Canada. Getting out and experiencing nature also inspires Canadians to help protect it.

Canadians are already passionate about nature and are taking action to protect it. Twenty-five million people visit Canada's national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas each year, while others connect with nature by visiting green spaces in their communities or by participating in nature-based activities like hiking, horseback riding or gardening. Many also take action to protect the environment.

We can support Canadians by expanding opportunities to experience nature and get involved in conservation, and by enabling children to connect with nature from a young age to lay the foundation for a life-long practice.

Canada's Nature Legacy

Funding through Canada's Nature Legacy supports our Connecting Canadians with Nature goal. It will expand opportunities for Canadians to get involved in conservation, support the establishment of new protected and conserved areas, and will increase access for Canadians to protected areas where they can connect and establish relationships with nature. It will also support the integration of Indigenous views, history and heritage into national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites.

Canada in the world

Helping Canadians connect with nature supports the 2030 Agenda and its global Sustainable Development Goals—in particular SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. It also supports specific SDG targets, as well as other international agreements and initiatives.

Work under this goal supports progress toward the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada and the global conservation objectives of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity—in particular, by encouraging Canadians to get out into nature and get involved in biodiversity conservation activities.

For details on how this goal supports international action, see Annex 3.

Connections with other FSDS areas

FSDS targets related to lands, forests, and wildlife, as well as healthy and sustainable communities, help Canadians connect with nature:

Our partners

Provinces, territories and municipalities, as well as Indigenous and non-governmental organizations, help get Canadians into nature and involved in conservation. For example:

  • provincial and territorial parks and protected areas provide opportunities for activities such as camping, hiking and viewing wildlife
  • Indigenous peoples work with federal, provincial and territorial governments to establish, manage and present protected areas
  • municipal parks and green spaces help urban Canadians benefit from time in nature
  • non-governmental organizations and educational institutions engage Canadians in citizen science initiatives to track changes in the environment and biodiversity

Partners taking action - Responsible tourism

In 2017, British Columbia's Thompson Okanagan was recognized by the Responsible Tourism Institute as the first Biosphere-certified sustainble destination in the Americas. The Thompson Okanagan offers diverse visitor experiences and encourages tourism that supports its cultural and natural heritage.

Partners taking action - Rouge National Urban Park

Rouge National Urban Park, the first of its kind in Canada, is the result of years of collaboration with stakeholders. Located in the Greater Toronto area, it will be one of the largest and best protected urban parks of its kind in the world. The park is home to incredible biodiversity, beaches, hiking, the City of Toronto's only campground, and some of Canada's oldest known Indigenous sites. Parks Canada works with partners such as park farmers, conservation groups, Indigenous peoples and community associations to manage the park and offer year-round programming for visitors.

Responsible ministers/Key departments and agencies

Minister of Environment and Climate Change/ Environment and Climate Change Canada; Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated; Parks Canada

Canada's starting point

  • To measure the extent to which Canadians are getting out in nature, we track the percentage of Canadian households who visit nearby parks and public green spaces and the number of visitors to federal protected areas such as national parks, national marine conservation areas and selected national wildlife areas:
    • in 2017, 87% of Canadian households reported that they had a park or green space within a 10-minute journey of their home
    • in 2017, 85% of Canadian households reported that they visited a park or green space close to their home during the year, while 71% reported that they visited a park or green space that was not close to their home
    • visits to federal protected areas are increasing—in 2017-2018, visits to national parks and marine conservation areas were up 34% from 2010-2011
  • To measure the extent to which Canadians are participating in conservation, we track the percentage of Canadian households who report that they take definite action to protect the environment. In 2017, 18% of Canadian households engaged in unpaid activities aimed at conservation or protecting the environment or wildlife.