The Interdepartmental Recovery Fund Program


The Interdepartmental Recovery Fund (IRF) is first and foremost for Other Federal Government Departments (OGDs), which include agencies and crown corporations, other than Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency. The IRF provides a central funding mechanism to support projects submitted by OGDs for the purpose of implementing priority recovery activities under recovery strategies or action plans for extirpated, endangered or threatened species or conducting surveys of endangered, threatened or special concern species.

More specifically, the IRF is a funding mechanism to:

  • Enhance the ability of OGDs to undertake and carry out in a timely fashion activities important for the protection and recovery of species at risk;
  • Enhance cooperation and collaborative arrangements among federal organizations and other Canadian stakeholders in the implementation of recovery projects (e.g., First Nations, universities, provinces, etc.); and
  • Contribute to the federal government’s commitment to the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

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National Priorities

This section outlines the priorities of the Program. Projects aligned with these will be given a higher priority.

The national priorities for all three species at risk funding programs (IRF, Habitat Stewardship Program [HSP] for Species at Risk and Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk [AFSAR]) are:

  • Endangered and Threatened Species at Risk Act (SARA)-listed species;
  • Protection of critical habitat;
  • Implementation of high priority activities described in recovery strategies, action plans or management plans;
  • Implementation of large scale, multi-species recovery initiatives involving collaboration among multiple stakeholders/partners;
  • Agricultural lands and associated waters (for the IRF, only agricultural lands under federal ownership, and their associated waters, are eligible);
  • Aboriginal lands and associated waters (for the IRF, eligible Aboriginal lands are lands owned or administered by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and their associated waters);
  • Implementation of SARA Section 11 agreements that focus on contributing to legal or effective protection;
  • Implementation of recovery actions for the Monarch (Danaus plexippus); and
  • Invasive species which are negatively impacting the recovery needs of species at risk.

For the IRF program, there is an additional priority for projects that focus on inventories of species at risk and their habitat on OGD lands.

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Types of Eligible Projects

Eligible projects must be directly related to the implementation of recovery strategies or action plans or to carry out surveys for species at risk. All proposed eligible activities must fall into one of the following three categories: Recovery activities; Surveys; or Planning and Proposal Development. Specific information and criteria of eligibility for each category can be found in the call for proposals and in the guidelines for a submission of proposal (both circulated and available on the IRF on-line application system at the end of September). General information for these categories is as follows:

Recovery activities

Recovery activities must predominantly be done on OGD lands (see definition of OGD in the Goal section) and on species listed only as Endangered, Threatened or Extirpated under SARA or the Monarch. Proposed activities must also be clearly identified in recovery strategies or action plans (the management plan for the Monarch is eligible). Eligible projects include:

  • defining, locating, enhancing and  creating suitable habitat;
  • identifying, delineating and mitigating threats to species and their habitat;
  • developing federal management guidelines for landowners and land managers; and
  • protecting critical habitat.


Surveys must occur on OGD lands and on species listed by the SARA or assessed as Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern by the COSEWIC. Endangered and Threatened SARA-listed species will be given higher priority. Survey proposals must be well targeted and justified, with a clear potential for species presence on the property.

Planning and Proposal Development

Projects submitted in this category must improve the capacity of an OGD to submit proposals for recovery activities or surveys in the following fiscal years. Proposed activities must also improve the capacity of an OGD to build IRF project proposals of better quality. This can include many types of activities, such as hiring a contractor to develop proposals for the next fiscal year or any other activities that may increase the capacity of the OGD to submit applications for recovery activities or surveys. It can also include developing medium term plans for surveys and recovery activities, and the priorities associated with these activities, and providing guidance to departmental staff on IRF applications.

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The Ministers of three federal organizations are responsible for the federal contribution to the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk: Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency.

A committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) from these three federal organizations ensures a consistent and collaborative approach to the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk. The ADMs Committee establishes priorities and sets directions for the IRF funding program. It also approves annual project proposals made to the IRF based on recommendations of the Species at Risk Directors General Operations Committee.

The Species at Risk Directors General Operations Committee, consisted of Directors General from the three federal organizations listed above is responsible for making recommendations to the Species at Risk ADMs Committee regarding the IRF. It reviews and supports the projects recommended for funding and any communications and products made by the IRF Interdepartmental Review Committee. The Committee also makes decisions with respect to operational issues and provides advice on program directions and priorities to the Species at Risk ADMs Committee.

An Interdepartmental Review Committee (IRC), composed of one representative from most of the participating federal organizations, is overall, responsible for:

  • Identifying and recommending strategic areas for funding in accordance with priorities identified by the Species at Risk Directors General and ADMs committees;
  • Periodically reviewing and recommending any significant changes respecting the process for project submission;
  • Periodically reviewing and recommending criteria to screen, evaluate and rank eligible proposals;
  • Evaluating eligible proposals and make funding recommendations to the Directors General and ADMs based on the evaluations;
  • Providing general direction (advice and feedback) to the IRF Secretariat; and
  • Performing other functions assigned to it by the Directors General and ADMs committees.

The IRF Secretariat, hosted by the Canadian Wildlife Service within Environment Canada, coordinates the activities of the program, such as:

  • being the main point of contact for the IRF including acting as a liaison for all federal organizations;
  • issuing calls for proposals and receiving proposals;
  • providing administrative and program support to the IRC, the Directors General Committee, the ADMs Committee and the accountable Ministers, including tracking financial resources;
  • receiving performance and financial reports on funded projects; and
  • reporting on the program.

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Participating Federal Organizations

To date, 16 federal organizations have received IRF funding:

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Atomic Energy Canada Limited
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Canadian Museum of Nature
  • Correctional Services Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Fraser River Port Authority
  • National Capital Commission
  • National Defence
  • National Research Council of Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Transport Canada

A federal organization must sign, for each funded project, a Memorandum of Understanding with Environment Canada to have access to IRF funds.

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