Apply NOW: 6 Steps to Apply to the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk

A Caribou Kill Rests Against a Sandy Beach

Check Your Pocket

The Caribou has been a Canadian icon since appearing on our quarters in 1936. But the Caribou on your quarter is in trouble in many parts of Canada, especially where their forest habitat is disturbed or fragmented.  

The Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk (AFSAR) call for proposals is now open.  The program will be accepting Expressions of Interest until December 18th, 2015. The submission of an Expression of Interest is strongly encouraged, particularly for applicants who have not received AFSAR funding in the past or for those applying to a new stream.  The deadline for proposal submissions is January 15th, 2016.  Below, we provide six key steps for creating an AFSAR application.

About the Fund

The Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk (AFSAR) aims to help indigenous nations build capacity to participate in the conservation and recovery of species and habitats.  Established in 2004-2005, this fund is provided annually by Environment Canada and is open to all indigenous nations across Canada.  Between 2004 and the end of March 2015, AFSAR invested over $29 million in 790 Species at Risk projects involving more than 200 communities, and benefitting more than 280 species that are listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).  Projects have focused on both specific conservation projects and projects aimed at increasing awareness of species at risk, the development of strategies, guidelines and practices, and monitoring, surveying and inventorying studies. 


Six key steps for creating a successful AFSAR application:


Step 1: Understand the AFSAR Program Goals

The AFSAR call for proposals is now open and available at:

AFSAR's main goals are protecting aquatic and terrestrial habitat and contributing to the recovery of species at risk, as well as preventing other species from becoming a conservation concern.

According to program guidance, the Species at Risk Stream focuses on results in four main areas:

  • Strengthen capacity in Aboriginal communities for SARA implementation.
  • Mitigate threats to species at risk, be they individuals or populations.
  • Protect, improve or manage critical and important habitat of species at risk.
  • Document and conserve Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge of species at risk and, where appropriate, help ensure their use in the development of recovery objectives.

The Prevention Stream focuses on the same results as the Species at Risk Stream but with a focus on species beyond those listed on Schedule 1 of SARA.


Step 2: Choose a Stream

Funds can be used to implement projects in support of one of two streams:

  • Species at Risk Stream: Projects dedicated to protecting and recovering Species at Risk, as defined under the Species at Risk Act (e.g. barn owl, queensnake, cucumber tree, caribou, wolverine, Blanding’s turtle. Note: These species may change depending on your location)
  • Prevention Stream: Projects dedicated to protecting and enhancing other priority species within your traditional territory and/or reservation that are of cultural significance to your nation - preference is given to endangered species (e.g. Canadian toad, hooded seal, muskox, caribou, wolverine, yellow-billed loon, lake sturgeon, American eel)

Step 3: Deterimine a Topic

In previous years communities have used this fund for:

  • Training for nation members in the identification and monitoring of Species at Risk or other important species (e.g. as part of BEAHR training)
  • Increasing habitat quality and quantity
  • Gathering information on species population, abundance and habitat, including indigenous knowledge of such species
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge interviews with elders, trappers and land users to: 
    • Help guide species recovery planning
    • Encourage stewardship activities
    • Support the development of traditional land use management plans that help protect or enhance habitat for Species at Risk
  • Creating educational materials
  • Identifying known spawning and rearing sites
  • Identifying of the effects of climate change on the land and on wildlife

A good source of information on Canada's approach to protecting and recovering species at risk is the Species at Risk Public Registry

Based on previous community use of the AFSAR fund, you would be wise to be specific to your nation's capacity building needs around threats to species at risk, critical and important habitat of interest to your nation, and your nation's Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge expertise and related needs.


Step 4: Budget

AFSAR requires a minimum of 1 : 0.20 leveraging on funds that it invests so that, for every $1 provided by AFSAR, at least $0.20 is raised by project recipients. This leveraging can take the form of either financial or in-kind resources (volunteered labour, products or services). Partner funding and other support broaden the scope of projects, improve on-the-ground results, and strengthen the public and private collaboration that is essential to involving all Canadians in stewardship activities for all species.

Funding allotments vary, but we understand that successful applicants typically receive up to $50,000 per year for up to 3 years.


Step 5: Make Sure You are Eligible

Communities and organizations actively involved in the management of indigenous nation lands are eligible for AFSAR funding.  If you are in doubt, check the program guidelines and/or contact an AFSAR regional office listed in the call for proposals.  The types of organizations are listed as eligible for AFSAR funding, include:

  • Indigenous associations/organizations
  • Territorially based Indigenous groups
  • District councils / Chief and council
  • Traditional appointed advisory committees
  • Indigenous corporations
  • Tribal councils
  • Indigenous partnerships and groups
  • Indigenous school authorities
  • Indigenous cultural education centres
  • Indigenous land/resource management authorities
  • Indigenous co-operatives
  • Indigenous societies
  • Indigenous boards and commissions, and
  • Other organizations (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) if mandated by eligible recipients.

Step 6: Dovetail with Regional Priorities

AFSAR proposal activities that respond to regional priorities are reviewed and recommended for funding by five Regional Management Teams: Pacific and Yukon, Prairie and Northern, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic. The members of these teams represent the three responsible departments, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada as well as indigenous, provincial, territorial, conservation and other stakeholder interests.  Submitting an Expression of Interest and reviewing that document with program staff will help make sure your AFSAR application maps onto regional and national priorities. 


How We Can Help

Given the short time period to develop Expressions of Interest and submit applications for AFSAR we're reaching out to alert our clients - indigenous nations and businesses working with indigenous nations - where we are aware of needs and interests to protect aquatic and terrestrial habitat and contribute to the recovery of species at risk, or prevent other species from becoming a conservation concern.  If you are not a client, but are interested in developing an application, Shared Value Solutions can:

  • Assist your community with understanding how this fund could best benefit your community
  • Provide assistance with the application process
  • If appropriate, assist with the implementation of the project

We're here to help.  We work with Indigenous nations across Canada, and regularly support clients in successfully applying for funding opportunities that enhance environmental capacity.

If your community is interested in participating in AFSAR and wants assistance you can contact Trieneke Gastmeier or Don Richardson: 226-706-8888 or

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