© 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.

A History of Success

Since the Arctic Species Conservation Fund began in 2016, more than 60 projects have been supported across Canada’s Arctic. Results from these projects include:

  • 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.
  • Updated polar bear subpopulation estimates, as well as new information on polar bear movements and reproductive output in Western Hudson Bay.
  • 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.
  • An awareness campaign in northern communities on the importance of barren-ground caribou conservation.
  • A new method to study the impacts of disturbance on barren-ground caribou.
  • 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:

  • Research projects aimed at identifying information leading to the development of protected areas
  • Innovations in wildlife research technology and techniques
  • Identification and characterization of critical habitat for marine mammals
  • Actions that help create or implement management plans and recovery strategies for caribou
  • Understanding the effects of windmill development on caribou

  • Innovations and community-based initiatives to manage polar bear attractants in communities
  • Projects that bridge the gap between IK, IQ and scientific understandings of polar bears
  • Understanding the effects of underwater noise, ice breaking, and oil spill events on marine mammals
  • Projects that demonstrate the potential of economic opportunities for northern communities through conservation programming

How to Apply

Applications are currently closed. Please contact arcticspecies@wwfcanada.org with any inquiries about the fund.

Arctic Species Conservation Fund Projects

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund is now in its fourth field season. Our 2019/2020 projects include research 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

From satellites and drones to measuring climate change impacts, our Arctic whale projects will focus on:

  • Analyzing years of successful data from narwhal camp to determine migration routes and core winter and summer narwhal habitats.
  • Evaluating the effects of climate change on existing protected areas, including the Disko Fan Conservation Area in Baffin Bay. The project will investigate if this area is still used by narwhal and will study their vocalizations to learn if this area is still important foraging ground during the winter months.
  • Analyzing tissue samples from narwhal dating back to the 1970s against current years to determine the relative health and stress on the population over time.
  • Analyzing satellite tracking data to determine critical habitat for Cumberland Sound beluga, one of the most threatened in Canada and listed under the Species at Risk Act.


© Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada

Polar Bears

Human-polar bear conflict rates are at an all-time high in the Western Hudson Bay region of Nunavut. This year’s research projects are designed to:

  • Identify polar bears causing problems around the communities of Churchill, MB and Arviat, NU through camera traps.
  • Track problem polar bears to increase community and bear safety. This work will inform planning to minimize human-polar bear conflict.
© Alexandre Paiement Barren Ground Caribou

Barren-Ground Caribou

With almost all of Canada’s barren-ground caribou herds in the midst of steep population declines, our supported research projects will:

  • Observe the behaviour of caribou close to and far away from mine sites, monitor stress levels through poop analysis and track the movement of collared animals.
  • Develop a network of Indigenous guardians to conserve the Bathurst herd, one of Canada’s most in-decline caribou populations.
  • Document Inuit knowledge on caribou in Nunavik, Quebec, where the George River herd has declined by 99 per cent.


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.

Go to arctic