In this section
The NWT’s conservation network is a collection of inter-connected protected, conservation, and heritage areas. It is built in close collaboration between territorial, federal and Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, and stakeholders to protect the territory’s ecological, social, cultural, and economic vibrance over the long-term.
The NWT’s vast, relatively untouched landscape provides a rare chance, unavailable in most other regions in Canada or the world, to proactively plan for a healthy future for the land, water, wildlife and people.
Planning ahead to responsibly conserve land and water now makes sense – restoring it later is less effective and costs more.
The conservation network in the NWT includes:
Indigenous protected and conserved areas (IPCAs)
Territorial protected areas
Federal protected areas
National and territorial parks
National and territorial wildlife sanctuaries/areas/refuges/historic sites
Protected through land claim agreements
Areas conserved through land use planning
Areas protected through land claim agreements
By the numbers:
17.3%: the amount of land and freshwater protected or conserved
Learn more about the NWT’s conservation network:
- View the latest plan for the conservation network online: Healthy Land, Healthy People
Learn more: Candidate protected areas
Learn more: Canadian Heritage Rivers in the NWT
View online: Territorial Protected Areas Registry
Learn more: Protected Areas Act (NWT) Plain Language Summary
Learn more: National parks and historic sites in the Northwest Territories (Government of Canada – select “Northwest Territories” on the dropdown bar)
View a map and list online: National wildlife areas in the NWT (Government of Canada)
Learn more: Marine protected areas in Canada (Government of Canada – view section “Arctic Ocean”)
Get information from Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations about IPCAs: view Indigenous government contact list
As species are rapidly being lost around the world, the NWT’s conservation network helps maintain landscapes with minimal human disturbance connected through corridors where wildlife, plants, and other species can thrive with minimal human interference.
These areas help:
- Safeguard habitat for wildlife
- Give space to feed and raise their young
- Give space for species to safely migrate
This works – recent studies tell us that the average number of species in an area which is protected is 10.6% higher than those outside, while populations also tend to be 14.6% higher than those outside.
Protected areas and conservation areas keep the cultural fabric strong – protecting, conserving, and recognizing areas where deep connections to the land have been shared by peoples of the Northwest Territories for centuries.
That’s why we build the conservation network alongside Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations – taking in centuries of Indigenous knowledge alongside western science to inform conservation decisions.
Resilience to the changing climate depends on habitat variety across landscapes. Ensuring these habitats are protected helps maintain the ability for species to adapt, and for excess greenhouse gases to be stored in forests, peat bogs, and other habitats to regulate our climate.
Well-planned protected areas and conservation areas are a proven way to achieve these ends in a cost-effective way.
Learn more about NWT climate action: Climate Change in the NWT
Protected areas and conservation areas are cherished both by locals and visitors. The NWT’s conservation network offers opportunities for responsible, respectful economic development through activities like eco and cultural tourism, locally-employed area managers, Guardian programs, and research.
Protected areas and conservation areas are environmental benchmarks for measuring the health of the environment and species living in them. That benchmark can help generate more knowledge about the effects of habitat loss and degradation, climate change, pollution, invasive species, and other threats.
This makes them valuable for local, national, and international researchers.