Federal budget looks ready to help protect more lands, inland waters, oceans

The federal government appears poised to earmark funds in next week's budget aimed at meeting United Nations' targets on protecting more of Canada's lands, inland waters and oceans.

Canada must protect 17% of land, inland waters as well as 10% of oceans by 2020 under UN agreement

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says its received a donation of nine parcels of ecologically significant land in northeastern New Brunswick, some of which is shown in this undated handout photo. The federal government appears poised to make commitments in next week's budget toward meeting United Nations targets on protecting more of Canada's lands, inland waters and oceans. (Canadian Press/HO-The Nature Conservancy of Canada-Mike Dembeck)

The federal government appears poised to earmark funds in next week's budget aimed at meeting United Nations' targets on protecting more of Canada's lands, inland waters and oceans.

Groups pushing Canada to fulfil its international vows to protect more of its ecosystems by 2020 say their interactions with government officials suggest that this will be the year Ottawa makes a big investment in protected areas.

It remains to be seen how the Liberal government will move toward meeting Ottawa's commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which states Canada must protect 17 per cent of its land and inland waters as well as 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020.

To meet the UN goals, a coalition of 19 environmental organizations has called on the federal government to use the budget to invest $1.3 billion over the next three years and another $450 million per year after that period.

Eric Hebert-Daly of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and John Lounds of the Nature Conservancy of Canada say as the budget approaches they are very encouraged by the signs coming out of Ottawa.

Hebert-Daly says he would be very surprised if Finance Minister Bill Morneau doesn't invest a considerable amount of money towards meeting the UN goal — particularly since time is running out for Canada to meet the 2020 deadline.