McIntyre Ranch, AB (Photo by Brent Calver)

McIntyre Ranch, AB (Photo by Brent Calver)

Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures

Cattle on working landscape, Alberta (Photo by Brent Calver)

Cattle on working landscape, Alberta (Photo by Brent Calver)

In response to the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, Canada has committed to protecting or conserving 30 per cent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030 (also known as 30 X 30). As a trusted delivery partner, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is committed to working in collaboration with the Government of Canada and other partners to meet this goal.

Success in reaching this goal is going to take innovation and collaboration. And creating a representative and well-connected network of conserved lands will not be possible with protected areas alone. One emerging approach that complements continued protected area establishment is the recognition and support of other effective area-based conservation measures (or OECMs). Both protected areas and OECMs can contribute to Canada’s 30 X 30 goals.

In December 2022, NCC brought global experts together at COP15 to explore financial solutions to incentivize OECMs. For a full recording of the event, click here.

What are OECMs?

Ball Berg, AB (Photo by Sean Feagan/NCC staff)

Ball Berg, AB (Photo by Sean Feagan/NCC staff)

OECMs are areas that provide conservation benefits but are not managed primarily for the protection of nature. OECMs can be governed by private individuals or organizations, Indigenous and local communities or governments. Examples could include areas of managed forest that are permanently set aside from commercial harvesting, municipal watershed management areas or low-impact recreation lands.

Unlike protected areas, which are designated and managed specifically for conservation objectives, OECMs recognize areas where conservation outcomes occur as a by-product of management for other purposes. For example, a university may own and manage an area for biological and environmental research that, because of the way it is managed, also supports long-term biodiversity conservation.

While they operate in different contexts, the result of both OECMs and protected areas is the same: effective biodiversity conservation.


Barachois de Malbaie, QC (Photo by Daniel Thibault)

Barachois de Malbaie, QC (Photo by Daniel Thibault)

OECMs are essential for the long-term conservation of resilient landscapes — areas where people and nature thrive. Recognizing areas as OECMs by including them in the national database of protected and conserved areas strengthens their existing management and informs future land use and policy decisions.

OECMs are part of a whole-of-society approach; they facilitate collaboration across sectors to create resilient landscapes. OECMs also offer opportunities to link community economic prosperity with biodiversity conservation. Incentives for OECMs are an emerging field in Canada.


Global context

Eight countries and territories currently have reported OECMs in the world database. As of November 2022, almost 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland waters globally have been protected or conserved (15.8 per cent as protected areas and 1.2 per cent as OECMs).

Canadian context

As of December 2021, Canada has protected or conserved 13.5 per cent of its terrestrial area (12.6 per cent as protected areas and 0.9 per cent as OECMs). Areas included in this calculation are based on screening assessments conducted by federal, provincial and/or territorial jurisdictions, using nationally established criteria.

The rapid loss of biodiversity is driving the need for innovative solutions in our approach to safeguarding nature, our way of life and our economy. During this exclusive event, global experts will reveal emerging solutions as leadership and investment opportunities to accelerate the nature agenda. Other effective area-based conservation measures will take centre stage as the newest, internationally recognized, equitable tool for effectively conserving nature.

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