Maple leaves (Photo by NCC)

Maple leaves (Photo by NCC)

What's in a name?

Conservation by any other name wouldn't be as sweet

The Forks Prairie Garden is a great outdoor classroom. (Photo by Thomas Fricke)

The Forks Prairie Garden is a great outdoor classroom. (Photo by Thomas Fricke)

There are more than 100 organizations working in support of nature and nature conservation in Canada. Each is propelled by a distinct mission and focus. Some highlight national causes and achievements, others focus on provincial, territorial or local projects. It could be easy to paint all nature-based organizations with the same broad, green strokes.

A close look at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) name reveals an organization that is uniquely driven and that stands apart from the crowd.


It goes without saying that that nature is at the core of everything NCC does – its raison-d’être since its inception more than 55 years ago. In fact, our vision statement clearly states:

“We envision a world in which Canadians conserve nature in all its diversity and safeguard the lands and waters that sustain life.”

The more that 330 passionate staff who work for NCC all share that vision and work every day to make it a reality in communities and landscapes across the country. Since 1962, that vision has helped drive the conservation of 14 million hectares (35 million acres) from coast to coast to coast.


It’s a common joke around NCC halls that our name is often confused with Conservatory. But a quick scan of the dictionary defines conservatory as a music college or a greenhouse, while conservancy refers to a group devoted to the protection of nature.

As a conservancy, NCC is distinct from other nature-based groups. It is not an environmental organization whose mandate is to advocate for the change in behaviour of groups or organizations. Nor is it a lobby group. At its core our work is about the science-based protection of Canada’s precious natural lands and waters, along with the native plants and animals that live in them, for the long term.


The conservation of Canada’s landscapes, by Canadians and for Canadians, is core to our values:

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada leads and inspires others to join us in creating a legacy for future generations by conserving important natural areas and biological diversity across all regions of Canada.”

NCC was founded nearly six decades ago by a group of concerned Canadians who wanted to ensure the long-term protection of our unique natural heritage for their children and grandchildren. It remains Canada’s only national land conservation organization, with offices in all 10 provinces and lands and waters conserved in all regions of the country. And we remain proudly Canadian.

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