© Paul Nicklen_National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada Narwhal A pod of male narwhal (Monodon monoceros) in Nunavut, Canada

Arctic Species Conservation Fund

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund supports research and stewardship actions, safeguarding some of Canada’s most emblematic species.

Helping Wildlife Thrive in a Changing Arctic

Barren-ground caribou, beluga whales, bowhead whales, narwhals, polar bears and walruses are among the Arctic wildlife to benefit from high-quality research and stewardship through the WWF-Canada Arctic Species Conservation Fund. WWF-Canada relies on the best available information and the direct engagement of Indigenous peoples to advocate for policies and legislation that are effective for the conservation of Arctic wildlife. Through this fund, we seek projects that will achieve meaningful outcomes for the conservation of Arctic species and the people who depend on them.

arctic species conservation fund map

A History of Success

Since the Arctic Species Conservation Fund began in 2016, more than 70 projects have been supported across Canada’s Arctic. Results from these projects include:

  • Community-based monitoring that led to the discovery that narwhal stress hormones have increased 100% in recent years as shipping intensifies and the climate warms.
  • The mapping of all known polar bear denning habitat across the Canadian Arctic.
  • Updated polar bear subpopulation estimates including good news for the M’Clintock Channel and Gulf of Boothia subpopulations.
  • The mapping of calving grounds of the struggling Baffin Island caribou herd using Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit Knowledge) workshops.
  • A new method to study the impact of disturbance from mining activity on barren-ground caribou.
  • The discovery of a novel way the narwhal tusk is used to feed in the area around Tremblay Sound.
  • The development of drones as a non-invasive method of studying bowhead whale feeding habits and population demographics.
  • Acoustic monitoring and aerial survey analyses to learn how increased ship traffic and ice-breaking along proposed shipping routes affect marine mammals in north Baffin Island.
  • Mapping all known walrus haul-outs in Canada and advocating for the avoidance of these areas by ships through Mariner’s Guides and intervention in industrial development projects.

Applicants from all backgrounds (community groups, Hunters and Trappers Organizations, governments, universities, independent researchers, non-government organizations, etc.) and fields of study (Indigenous Knowledge (IK), Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), natural sciences, social sciences, etc.) are eligible to apply.

The types of projects the fund seeks to support include:

  • Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area projects at any stage of development
  • Initiatives that enable communities to participate in Land Use Planning, Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessments, Species at Risk listing processes etc.
  • Studies on the resilience of Arctic habitats
  • Projects that demonstrate the potential of economic opportunities for northern communities through conservation programming
  • Nature Based Solutions projects seeking to identify, restore or protect areas of carbon storage

  • Understanding the effects of underwater noise, ice breaking and oil spill events on marine mammals
  • Understanding the impacts of ship-based contaminants (black carbon, grey water, heavy metals, invasive species, microplastics, scrubbers etc.) on marine mammals and Arctic marine habitats
  • Research furthering our understanding of the effects of roads, development sites and other forms of disturbance on caribou and their habitats
  • Identification and characterization of critical habitat for caribou
  • Development and implementation of methods to reduce human-polar bear conflict in communities

How to Apply

Applications for the 2021 Arctic Species Conservation Fund are due April 2nd and should be submitted in PDF format to arcticspecies@wwfcanada.org. For full fund criteria, please refer to the 2021 call for proposals available in English and Inuktitut.

Arctic Species Conservation Fund Projects

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund is in its fifth year of operation. Our 2020 projects include research and action on the following:

© naturepl.com / Sue Flood / WWF Beluga whales trapped at ice hole (Delphinapterus leucas) too far away to reach open sea

Arctic Whales

  • Analyzing years of tagging data from narwhal camp to determine migration routes and core winter and summer narwhal habitats.
  • Building off the successful narwhal cortisol study from 2019, researchers are exploring new methods to measure and quantify narwhal stress in a rapidly changing environment


© Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada

Polar Bears

  • Tracking problem polar bears to increase community and bear safety. This work will inform planning to minimize human-polar bear conflict.
  • Nunavummiut (people of Nunavut) led polar bear surveys on Southampton Island to identify polar bear denning habitat and population characteristic
  • Polar bear patrols in Whale Cove, Nunavut to keep people and bears safe
© Alexandre Paiement Barren Ground Caribou

Barren-Ground Caribou

  • Re-analyzing years of caribou collar data to better characterize calving ground usage and inform proper protection measures
  • Working with local communities to document caribou harvest in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Qamanirjuaq herd


© Lin Pepper Walrus in Poolepynton point in Svalbard, Norway

Atlantic Walrus

  • Studying walrus from space using satellites to develop a new method of counting walrus at their haulouts from anywhere in the world
  • Mapping all known walrus haulouts in Canada against a decade of shipping data to inform future voyage planning that minimizes disturbance to walrus
  • Community-based monitoring of walrus to check for the presence of micro-plastics in Arctic food webs and advocate for better ship wastewater practices


What is our arctic team working on?

Our dedicated team of conservationists and researchers are constantly out in the field gathering facts and data. Read more about their work.

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