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Program overview, objectives and expected results


The protection of species at risk in Canada depends upon a meaningful collaboration with IndigenousFootnote 1 Peoples and organizations. The Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk (AFSAR), established in 2004, supports the development of Indigenous capacity to participate actively in the implementation of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The Act recognizes the important role that Indigenous Peoples play in wildlife conservation and the need to consider Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) in the assessment of which species may be at risk, as well as in the development and implementation of relevant protection and recovery measures.

Along with the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund (IRF), the AFSAR is one of three main federal funding programs that focus on the protection and recovery of species at risk. It allocates approximately $4.5 million a year to Indigenous-led projects that address SARA Schedule 1 listed species with a status of Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern, as well unlisted species that have received a corresponding assessment from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Funding is delivered through two distinct platforms:

  1. AFSAR terrestrial programming focuses on terrestrial and migratory bird species at risk, and is delivered by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC);
  2. AFSAR aquatic programming focuses on aquatic species at risk and is delivered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

To guide the effective use of limited resources, national and regional planning partners establish annual priorities that inform the development of regionally specific project proposals. Activities that respond to these priorities are reviewed and recommended for funding in the following regions: Pacific (PAC), Ontario and Prairie (OPR), Quebec (QC), Arctic (ARCTIC), Gulf (GLF), Maritimes (MAR), and Newfoundland and Labrador (NFLD).


Promoting the conservation and recovery of species at risk and their habitats is central to the AFSAR program’s objectives. Between its inception in 2004 and the end of March 2017, the AFSAR has contributed approximately $40 million to more than 900 Indigenous-led projects, leveraging nearly $30 million in matching contributions from project partners and yielding a total investment of almost $70 million in the conservation and recovery of species at risk.

The AFSAR program also seeks to support Indigenous organizations and communities across Canada as they continue developing the capacity to lead in the stewardship of species at risk. This can include program related investments in: training and professional/skills development; local employment through project activities; the acquisition of appropriate technical resources, equipment and capital assets; community outreach and education, and; community-led documentation and management of Indigenous KnowledgeFootnote 2 (IK).

Expected results

To support its overarching objectives, the AFSAR aquatic program expects the projects and activities it supports to achieve the following results:

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