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Natural Heritage Conservation Program –Land Trusts Conservation Fund (NHCP-LTCF)

Small Grants Program

The 2024-2025 application window is now open!


In order to be considered for the 2024-2025 NHCP-LTCF Small Grants Program, completed Application Forms and required documentation are to be submitted between May 21, 2024 and September 4, 2024 at 8:00pm (ET). Prospective awardees, please review the Year 6 guidelines for deadlines and important dates below (subject to change).

To be eligible for funding in Year 6, projects must close between April 1, 2024 and *NEW* February 17, 2025.

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The Government of Canada is investing a further $80 million to their initial $100 million investment (2019-2023), over the next 3 years in the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2026) as a continuation of the Budget 2018’s Nature Legacy initiative. This funding will be shared by conservation partners including the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Canada’s community and regional land trusts.

The NHCP is a public-private partnership designed to advance privately protected areas in some of the country’s most cherished landscapes.

More specifically, the NHCP aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • To contribute to the achievement of the terrestrial and inland water elements of Canada’s target of Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets;
  • To contribute to the protection of habitat for the recovery of Species at Risk Act (SARA) listed species at risk and the prevention of other species from becoming listed under SARA.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Wildlife Habitat Canada and a variety of regional and local land trusts represented by the Alliance of Canadian Land Trusts are working together under the Natural Heritage Conservation Program to support these goals, with a commitment to protect an additional 15,000 hectares of habitat for species at risk.

Wildlife Habitat Canada is providing grant administration services for the Land Trusts Conservation Fund, which is a component of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. The Land Trusts Conservation Fund will provide approximately $5.08 million annually over three years to support Canadian land trusts in securing private lands and private interests in lands. Note: Canadian federal government contributions cannot be used as matching funds under the NHCP-LTCF program.

This investment in nature is an important step in achieving Canada’s target of conserving a quarter of its lands and a quarter of its oceans by 2025, and toward conserving 30% by 2030.

The NHCP-LTCF program is designed to directly support Canada Target 1 and as such, land funded under the NHCP-LTCF program must count towards objectives for permanent or long-term protection of land, either as a “Protected Area” (PA) or an “Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measure” (OECM), as defined by Appendix 1 of One with Nature 2019:

Protected Area (PA): A Protected Area is “a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.” (One with Nature definition, 2019).

Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measure (OECM)*: An OECM is broadly defined as “a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio-economic, and other locally relevant values.” (One with Nature definition, 2019).

*If your project involves a unique mechanism for conservation or an OECM, please contact WHC to discuss the details of your project before submitting an application.

Note: Successful applications with projects involving a unique mechanism for conservation or an OECM will require approval by ECCC before a Funding Agreement between WHC and the Applicant can be signed (WHC will facilitate the ECCC request for approval).

A Decision Support Tool exists to provide support in assessing whether or not an area contributes to Canada’s Target. Applicants are encouraged to review the Decision Support Tool and assess their project land using the Decision Support Tool Screening Template for Protected Areas and OECMs to determine whether the area can be counted towards Canada Target.

For further information, see the overview of the Accounting for Protected and Other Conserved Areas.

Year 6 2024-2025

  • Eligible projects must close between April 1, 2024 and *NEW* February 17, 2025.
  • Eligible project expenses will be those incurred between April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2025.
  • Associated project expenses that occurred between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2025 can be applied to the project as matching funds (provided that the expenses were not paid for with other sources of Canadian federal funds).


To be eligible to apply to the Land Trusts Conservation Program (LTCF), applicants must meet all the criteria below:

  1. Applicants must be a Canadian Land Trust*;
  2. Applicants must be a registered Canadian charity; and,
  3. Applicants must be in compliance or working towards substantial compliance with the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices (2019)** or Guide des bonnes pratiques en intendance privée: aspects juridiques et organisationnels, as demonstrated through a Board resolution or confirmed through an attestation by a senior officer of the organization. This includes, in particular, compliance or substantial compliance with Standards 8-12 which address the securement and stewarding of conservation lands.

* A Canadian Land Trust is defined as a not-for-profit conservation organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by acquiring land or Conservation Agreements (or assisting with their acquisition) and/or stewarding/managing land or Conservation Agreements (CLT Standards & Practices 2019).

**The Canadian Land Trust Standards & Practices were revised in January 2019 and land trusts will be in a transition phase while adopting new practices. Land trusts are expected to be making significant progress towards the adoption of a Board resolution. Resolutions are expected to be filed with the appropriate Alliance, if applicable, and on-file with the land trust for review by WHC, upon request.

NHCP-LTCF Small Grant funds can be used to fund both in-year securement expenses AND associated securement costs of fee simple land or Conservation Agreements.

A land trust may submit a maximum of two* project proposals with funding asks between $5,000.00 and $50,000.00 each, for immediate consideration. Application forms will be reviewed on a first-come, first served basis until all funds are awarded; applications must be complete and meet eligibility requirements in order to be considered.

Wait listed Large Grant projects may elect to submit a revised project to the Small Grant program; however, if funds are awarded under the Small Grant program, the project will be removed from consideration under the Large Grant program.

Required Match: The NHCP-LTCF is a matching funds program, with a required match ratio of a minimum 1.5:1. This means that for every $1 of Program funds awarded, a minimum of $1.50 in matching funds from sources other than Canadian Federal Government investments must also be contributed.

Required Stewardship Endowment Contribution for Each Project: Projects funded under the NHCP-LTCF require a cash contribution to a stewardship endowment fund for the long-term stewardship of the lands.

Project Financial Check: For Final Reporting, successful applicants must provide WHC with a completed Financial Reporting Template and copies of individual invoices or receipts for NHCP-LTCF expenses that are over the amount of $1,000.

Project Audit: Projects may be selected for a program or financial audit by internal WHC staff or an external Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the Small Grants program and the Funding Agreement. Successful applicants are required to maintain detailed records and supporting documentation associated with the project.

All Small Grant applications (funding requests between $5,000.00 and $50,000.00) will be reviewed by Wildlife Habitat Canada in the following areas:

  • Project and applicant eligibility;
  • Project duration and completion date;
  • Match requirement;
  • Hectares;
  • Risk of incompletion.

Applications are reviewed and considered in the order in which they are submitted, on a first come, first served basis; however, applicants are encouraged to take their time and submit accurate, completed applications. If an applicant fails to upload the correct, requested documentation with their Application Form submission, the application may be deemed incomplete and disqualified from funding consideration.

All applicants will be notified as to the funding decision for their application. Successful applicants will receive a funding agreement from for signature.

  • Documents and reporting must be submitted through Wildlife Habitat Canada’s online grant system. Click here  to access the login page.
  • Click here to reference the HOW TO Complete the Final Report Form video
  • For Small Grant awardees – Reference the HOW TO Complete the automated Financial Report Template video. Click here
Project Dates: April 1, 2024 and *NEW* February 17, 2025 (closing)
Small Grant applications * Opening May 21, 2024
  • NHCP-LTCF Small Grants Guidelines – Year 6: Launching late-May
  • Applications: late-May 2024 to September 2024, or until all funds are allocated
  • Reviewed by WHC: as received and based on time-stamp order
  • Decision letters to applicants: approximately 4 weeks after the Application Form has been received and processed.
  • Final Reporting: March 31, 2025

To submit an application, all applicants must have read, acknowledge and agree with the requirements of the program Guidelines for their respective category (Large or Small Grant program).

Successful applicants are expected to enter into a signed agreement with WHC regarding the exchange of funds. All applicants are expected to review the draft Funding Agreement prior to preparing and submitting an application. All awardees of the NHCP-LTCF (Large or Small Grant program) must complete the Final Reporting Form, in full, by the deadline.

Canadian federal government contributions cannot be used as matching funds under the NHCP-LTCF program. This includes any COVID-19 federal subsidies (such as the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy).

Year 5 Project Dates: April 1st, 2023 and February 15th, 2024 (closing)
Small grant projects:
  • Decision letters to applicants: approximately 4 weeks after the Application Form has been received and processed.
  • Mid-project milestones: September 1st, 2023, November 1st, 2023, January 15th 2024
  • Final Reporting: March 31, 2024

Important Reference Documents

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