Whistler BC - Emerald Forest Photo. A. Banks

Municipal Protected Areas Project (M.P.A.P.)

Photo:  A. Banks

Protected areas play an essential role in supporting biodiversity and reducing the impacts of climate change. Protection of biodiverse natural areas requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, whereby all levels of government, industry, private business, and the public sector need to work collectively. Local governments own and manage large amounts of important natural areas, each using different systems of protection for these spaces. As part of the MPAP we are supporting local governments to make sure these protections align with international standards.

Canada and British Columbia have both committed to protecting 30% of land and water (including oceans and inland water) by 2030, known as the “30×30” goal. To date, provincial and federally protected land has been identified, but the amount protected by local governments is still unclear. To count towards this 30×30 goal, areas must:

  • Have clearly defined geographic boundaries
  • Achieve in-situ conservation of biodiversity
  • Prohibit actions incompatible with conservation
  • Are intended to be protected in perpetuity

As of December 2023, Canada has 13.7% of its terrestrial area protected while BC has 19.7% of its terrestrial area protected. Reaching 30×30 will require a continued coordinated effort amongst all management authorities of conservation areas. To ensure the MPAP work is aligned across the country, BC Nature works with a coalition of four other nature organizations: Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, The Alliance of Canadian Land Trusts, and Wildlands League.

Participation in the Municipal Protected Areas Project is free to local governments and involves an assessment of natural areas using the nationally recognized Decision Support Tool process. The assessment incorporates both ecological value and the policy strength of protective mechanisms. BC Nature undertakes the majority of the assessment and registration process to reduce the capacity constraints of local governments. BC Nature also works with their local clubs, gaining valuable monitoring data, local knowledge and connections that are integral to the success of this program. Read more about the pilot project in Whistler to see how the process can go!


  • Don’t let the name fool you! This project is open to regional districts, municipalities, watershed management authorities, First Nations, and more.
  • The 30×30 target is being tracked on the Canadian Database of Protected and Conserved Areas (CPCAD).
  • Your local government does not need to protect 30% of its land to help contribute to this goal, every bit helps.

Want to learn more? 

Please reach out to Kephra Beckett