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National Wildlife Areas

National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

Some of Canada’s best wildlife habitat has been set aside in a network of 51 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs) that span all provinces and territories. This protected areas network is managed by Environment Canada and is critical to Canada’s efforts to conserve biodiversity:

Safe Haven for Birds
NWAs and MBSs protect Canada’s most important migratory bird habitat, including critical nesting areas, migration staging areas, and coastal seabird islands.

Refuge for Species at Risk
More than half of these areas provide a home for species at risk of extinction, such as polar bears, monarch butterflies, and burrowing owls. Ontario’s Long Point NWA alone is home to 31 species at risk.

Healthy Natural Ecosystems
More than seven million hectares of wetlands within NWAs and MBSs filter and store fresh water, manage floods, clean our air, and limit climate change by acting as carbon sinks.

Wild Landscapes
These wild spaces can significantly contribute to Canada’s efforts to conserve our vast boreal forests, our three ocean coasts, and our northern ecosystems.

What is the difference between a National Park, a National Wildlife Area and a Migratory Bird Sanctuary?
National Parks protect representative samples of each of Canada’s natural regions, whereas NWAs and MBSs protect habitat for specific wildlife species.

National Wildlife Areas are owned by the federal government and conserve essential habitat for migratory birds, species at risk and other wildlife.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries include a mix of public and private lands, and generally only focus on protecting birds and their breeding grounds during the nesting season.

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