© Emily Vandermeer digging in a watershed

Nature and Climate Grant Program

By improving and increasing viable habitat for biodiversity and carbon, we can help wildlife thrive and fight climate change at the same time.

Fighting biodiversity loss and climate change

Canada is facing the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate breakdown. The decline of at-risk species is driven largely by habitat loss, which is also driving climate change: One-third of climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions result from the destruction of trees, ground cover, peatlands, and coastal plants and ecosystems. Nature-based climate solutions use the unique powers of nature to both capture and store carbon, which helps mitigate climate change, and safeguard species. WWF-Canada’s Nature and Climate Grant Program, now entering its second year bolstered by a new injection of funding, helps local groups and Indigenous communities restore degraded lands and shorelines in order to improve habitats and capture carbon.

Aviva Canada is the presenting partner of the Nature and Climate Grant Program.

Field report: Celebrating year one

During the 2021/2022 season, seven grantees collectively restored over 160 hectares of wetlands, grasslands, shorelines, agricultural areas and former industrial sites

From the salt marshes of the Wolastoq/Saint John River valley, NB, to the shores of Vancouver Island, BC, to the farmlands of Quebec and Ontario, around 4,000 people planted nearly 90,000 trees and shrubs, which will sequester carbon as they grow and benefit more than 70 populations of species at-risk.

These projects also made communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, directly benefitting over 100,000 people.

The grantees that led the way:

ALUS Canada Engaging farmers and ranchers in nature restoration in Chatham-Kent, ON and Outaouais, QC

Credit Valley Conservation Hungry Hollow Sustainable neighbourhood Action Plan in Halton Hills and Georgetown

Ducks Unlimited Canada Maintaining Saint John River floodplain wetlands and measuring carbon accumulation at coastal wetlands

Hammond River Angling Association Cutting hedge technology: Using shrubs to sequester carbon and restore Palmer Brook

Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority Take a load off: Restoring habitat and water quality in the Nottawasaga Valley

Comox Valley Project Watershed Society Kus-kus-sum: Restoration of key habitat to re-establish ecosystem services and build coastal resiliency

SeaChange Society: Saanich Peninsula blue carbon recovery project

Site spotlight: Advancing change in New Brunswick

The grant program allowed the Hammond River Angling Association (HRAA), a watershed group in Nauwigewauk, NB, to accelerate the natural regeneration of 1,500 m2 of habitat and, for the first time, analyze carbon sequestration in the area through core soil sampling. Restoration efforts focused on planting native shrubs as opposed to trees, because they regenerate easily, produce flowers, fruits and nuts for wildlife and are extremely adaptive and resilient to climate change. Their deep roots also benefit shoreline restoration and sequester carbon in the soil.

The knowledge gained through this program is already being passed on to the next generation: the grant also allowed HRAA to develop and deliver a Carbon Lifecycle class to 280 children who attended nature camps to learn about carbon, and how it forms the basis of all life on Earth.

Meet the 2022-2024 grantees

New funding from Aviva Canada has allowed the program to build on the success of its first year, offering multi-year grants to projects led by local groups and Indigenous communities (and including 3 returning groups from year one). This work will take place over a two-year timeline and lay a foundation for meaningful, long-term change. Learn more about these incredible groups and how they are restoring ecosystems to achieve wildlife and climate goals.

©Graeme Owsianski

The Clayoquot Climate Resilience and Watershed Restoration Project, led by the Redd Fish Restoration Society in partnership with the ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht) and hiškʷiiʔatḥ (Hesquiaht) Nations, works to restore ecosystem resilience, rebuild wildlife populations and mitigate climate change in watersheds on the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC. The project’s goal is to build a better future for the communities that depend on these watersheds, which are also affected by high-intensity weather events such as landslides.

© Caitlin Pierzchalski / Comox Valley Project Watershed Society

Kus-kus-sum, a partnership between Project Watershed, the K’ómoks First Nation, and the City of Courtenay will build on its work as a year-one grantee, aiming to restore tidal marshes and riparian forest on a former sawmill site in the heart of the Comox Valley, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Their plan is to restore natural biodiversity to benefit wildlife and maintain fish stock, mitigate climate change impact (via flood attenuation, sea level rise adaptation and carbon sequestration), and restore cultural and traditional uses of the site by the K’ómoks First Nation, the traditional stewards of the landscape.

© Philippe Boivin

ALUS Canada, an innovative community-developed and farmer- delivered program that restores, enhances, and maintains ecosystem services on agricultural lands, is also returning to the program. ALUS works collaboratively with farmers and community partners to create, enhance, conserve and manage on-the-ground habitat projects. Their project aims to integrate native habitats such as grasslands, trees and wetlands into marginal and environmentally sensitive areas of farmland in the counties of Norfolk, Elgin and Lambton in Ontario, and the regions of Montérégie and Outaouais in Quebec.

© Kirsten Stanley / WWF-Canada

With the Carbon Capture Collective project, the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee, and their partners, the Hammond River Angling Association and Belleisle Watershed Coalition, will improve site diversity and increase carbon sequestration by creating baseline carbon calculations on soils at degraded riparian areas in Sussex, NB. This project will increase tree species, floodplain functions and overall ability to sequester carbon through improved tree growth and soil health. They will partner with the Agriculture Alliance of New Brunswick to complete the carbon monitoring process and engage students and volunteers for tree planting efforts.

© Friends of the Rouge Watershed Students planting trees

The Friends of the Rouge Watershed project aims to mobilize 4,000 youth and community volunteers in Toronto, ON, to plant 20,000 native trees and 8,000 native wildflowers and shrubs — contributing to the restoration of riparian forest wetland habitat (or swamp), upland forest habitat, and wildflower meadow habitat on municipal parklands in the Rouge River Watershed near Rouge National Urban Park. It will improve overall biodiversity and habitat for dozens of at-risk species and fight climate change and flooding by absorbing significant amounts of carbon and 14 million liters of water per year.

© Emily Vandermeer / WWF-Canada

This Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority is back for round two, with a project that engages landowners, farmers and volunteers and aims to “Take a Load Off” of watersheds north of Toronto, ON, by restoring natural infrastructures, improving habitat for biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem’s ability to sequester carbon. It also aims to reduce flooding by increasing infiltration rate, creating floodplain capacity and protecting and increasing wetlands. Activities include wetland, river, forest and native grassland habitat restoration, and farm practices to create carbon-rich healthy soils.

Event Spotlight: Nature and Climate @ Globe Series

Speakers from WWF-Canada, Aviva Canada, ALUS and Project Watershed discuss the Nature and Climate Grant Program as well as nature-based climate solutions that range from on-the-ground projects to corporate investments in nature.