Species at Risk

Species at Risk Act

Does the Species at Risk Act apply everywhere in Canada?


Grenadier Island, West, Deerberry Grenadier Island, West, Deerberry
© Parks Canada / Woods, J. / 1977

For most extirpated, endangered and threatened species, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) applies automatically only on federal lands. This includes national parks, national marine conservation areas, national historic sites and other protected heritage areas administered by Parks Canada. But for species also protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, or aquatic species as defined in the Fisheries Act, SARA applies automatically on provincial and territorial lands and waters as well.

Under SARA, provincial and territorial governments are given the first opportunity to protect species and critical habitat found on non-federal lands. However, if necessary, the Governor in Council (more or less the federal Cabinet), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, may order that certain SARA restrictions apply on provincial or territorial lands.

Critical habitat

The critical habitat of species is also protected after it has been identified in a recovery strategy or action plan. There is a range of possible ways to protect critical habitat, including stewardship or conservation agreements, other legislation or regulations, and restrictions.