Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program guidelines
How to apply for funding under the Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program.
On this page Skip this page navigation
Applications must be received electronically by midnight (EST) on Thursday, November 30, 2017. Applications received after the deadline or not completed in full will not be accepted.
Notice of collection: Personal information collected on the application form will be used for the proper administration of the Land Stewardship & Habitat Restoration Program.
Personal information will only be used or disclosed in accordance with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. If you have any questions about the collection of this information contact the Integration Branch FIPPA coordinator at:
300 Water Street,
5th Floor, South Tower
Peterborough, ON K9J 8M5
For questions regarding the LSHRP, please contact:
Programs Support Technician
Guidelines for applicants
Please read these guidelines carefully. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's (MNRF's) Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program (LSHRP) is a competitive funding program through which MNRF supports on-the-ground efforts in habitat enhancement and ecological restoration to advance Ontario's biodiversity conservation objectives at a landscape level. Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to the Moving Biodiversity Conservation to a Landscape Approach paper to focus project efforts on the strategic conservation of ecosystems and species at a landscape level.
Projects will be selected based on their strategic and landscape-based contribution to conserving Ontario's biodiversity. Applicants should keep the following basic principles in mind when completing an application:
- Where possible, the project can be linked to existing landscape-level strategic conservation or stewardship planning efforts.
- The project makes a significant contribution to the establishment, maintenance, restoration or protection of fish or wildlife habitat, or of Ontario's natural ecosystems.
- Implementing the project is an important action to ensure sustainability of habitat features or ecosystem functions over the long term.
- The project demonstrates a good investment for the Province of Ontario (e.g., in terms of capacity, ecological benefits and partnership support).
Applicants must apply online through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Stewardship Portal. New applicants must register for an account before being able to access the online application form. Previous applicants can apply using existing accounts.
To learn more about the Stewardship Portal, please see attached instructions and frequently asked questions document. New applicants are advised to register for an account early in order to ensure suitable time before the submission due date. Accounts will take up to 5 business days to activate. Applicants who submit an account request and do not receive an e-mail with account credentials within 5 business days are responsible for contacting the MNRF using the information provided on page one.
- For 2018/19 the deadline for submitting applications is midnight Thursday, November 30, 2017.
- Applications must be submitted through the Stewardship Portal. Maps and photographs may be uploaded and attached to the application in .doc, .pdf, or .jpeg formats. Only include supporting documentation and information that directly support your project. Please do not send consultant reports or other large documents. Please ensure that your attachments do not exceed 30 MB in size.
- Applicants will receive an e-mail confirming their submission has been received within 3 business days of submitting the application. Applicants who do not receive a confirmation e-mail are responsible for contacting the MNRF using the information provided on page one.
- Applicants must include a map showing the project location(s). Applications submitted without a project location map will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
- Applicants may submit a maximum of one (1) project for funding.
The following groups and organizations are eligible to apply to the program provided they are legal entities:
- Aboriginal organizations and communities
- Conservation organizations
- Municipal governments
- Incorporated non-government organizations
Provincial and Federal government or government agencies are not eligible to apply. While provincial and federal governments are able to support projects through in-kind and financial contributions, they are not able to receive any direct funding from an approved LSHRP project.
Note: All LSHRP funding recipients are required to have their own insurance coverage for $2 million with an insurer having a best rating of B+ or greater before entering into a funding agreement with the Government of Ontario.
All applicants must be legal entities.
Projects involving multiple partners are eligible under the program; however, each application should identify one key contact/organization that will be responsible for fulfilling the conditions that may be attached to any funding provided by MNRF. Multi-partner projects should only be submitted to the program once (i.e., each partner is not to submit an application for the same project).
Eligible / ineligible activities
The LSHRP focuses on funding projects that are of direct benefit to fish and wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Projects that address priorities identified within existing landscape level conservation plans (e.g., Natural Heritage Systems Plans) will be given priority.
The following types of activities are eligible for funding consideration under this program:
- habitat restoration/rehabilitation/enhancement for the benefit of fish and wildlife and biodiversity
- invasive species control
- wetland creation (may include water control) and restoration
- tree planting that enhances natural heritage systems
- buffer establishment
- livestock exclusion fencing
- stream crossings
- species re-introduction
- alternate watering devices (when required for fencing livestock from waterways)
- in-stream/lake fish habitat enhancement
The following activities are NOT eligible for funding under the program:
- inventory, monitoring, surveys or assessment
- communications and outreach
- education and training
- land acquisition and any associated costs
- conservation planning
- projects required by laws or regulations (e.g., mitigation or compensation)
- species at risk focused projects
Repeat Projects: The LSHRP will not fund what could be determined as ‘repeat projects' from the same applicant year after year. It is the applicant's responsibility to clearly show how a project proposal differs from previous LSHRP funded project.
Note: applicants seeking funding for species at risk projects are encouraged to apply for funding through MNRF's Species at Risk Stewardship Fund (SARSF), or the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP) instead of the LSHRP. Further information can be accessed at the following links:
Note: All project proposals will require an evaluation component to measure project success and effectiveness. It is imperative that each application identify appropriate tools that will be used to track the success of the proposed project.
If you are uncertain whether your project might be eligible for the program, please contact the MNRF using the information provided on page one.
- Proponents are responsible for obtaining landowner permission to access private property to undertake project activities.
- Proponents are solely responsible for identifying and obtaining any and all necessary permits before a project is initiated.
LSHRP funding is currently approved and provided on an annual basis only.
Multi-year projects can be submitted, however, deliverables to be completed within the year the project is submitted must be clearly identified (these annual deliverables will be used to evaluate the project). The application must identify deliverables (and associated costs) that will be completed by February 28, 2019. Projects crossing multiple years must be re-submitted each year. Funding for the subsequent years will be dependent on availability of funds, comparative priority and/or whether the necessary appropriation is provided from the Ontario Legislature.
The following costs will be eligible for funding under the program:
- Human Resource Costs: includes wages and mandatory benefits (as required by law) for human resources that will be directly involved in the implementation of the project. Project management (e.g., supervision of staff implementing the project) costs are excluded from Human Resources costs.
- Administrative Costs: includes office space rental, office supplies, phone, computer, fax and photocopy and auditing costs directly related to the project. Administrative Costs must be reasonable and clearly documented. Administrative costs should not exceed 10% of the total amount of funding requested from the program. Applications with lower than 10% administration costs will receive higher ranking in the review process than those that are higher.
- Equipment Costs: includes the lease and/or rental of equipment required for the completion of the project. Heavy equipment and related operator costs are captured in this category. In some cases, equipment purchase may be considered with proper justification.
- Materials and Supplies: includes materials other than equipment (e.g., trees for planting, fencing, etc.).
- Vehicle and Travel Expenses: includes vehicle leases, operational costs (e.g., fuel), mileage, accommodations, and meals. Mileage rate cannot exceed $0.40/km in southern Ontario and $.41/km in northern Ontario. Costs must be reasonable for activities proposed.
Note: Following the formal review and approval of applications, proponents may be asked to ensure that costs associated with equipment, rentals and leases over $5,000 have gone through a competitive process (e.g., sought out quotes for equipment, rentals and leases).
The LSHRP will not fund infrastructure related projects or projects requiring significant capital expenditure.
Grant allocations will not exceed $20,000 per project and can be applied to projects completed between April 1st, 2018 and February 28th, 2019.
Generally, grant payments will be made to a recipient in two instalments upon the receipt of activity and financial reports. Refer to section 16 within these guidelines for more information.
If there are any unspent funds remaining upon project completion the Province may require the return of the unspent funds and/or adjust the amount of any further instalments of Funds accordingly.
Match funding and in-kind contributions
Projects will be eligible to receive no more than 50 percent of the total project cost under the program (i.e., the funding provided under the program must be matched at a minimum ratio of 1:1).
Funding (i.e., actual project dollars) and in-kind support from other provincial government sources cannot be used to address the 1:1 match funding requirement.
The total project cost can be derived from both direct cash and in-kind contributions. All applications involving in-kind contributions must include a description detailing how the in-kind contributions are valued. Volunteer contributions are to be calculated using the following:
Youth (under 25 years of age) = $12/hr
Adults (over 25 years of age) = $20/hr
Professionals = $50/hr
Projects that exceed the minimum 50 percent match funding requirement are encouraged. Projects whose required 50 percent match funding is derived exclusively from in-kind contributions may score lower during the review process than those that have a greater cash contribution. The extent to which a project is able to leverage funds provided by the LSHRP is one factor that will be considered when applications are evaluated. Projects that show substantial match funding may be given priority.
The applicant must hold title to the land on which the project is to be undertaken OR must submit a letter from the property landowner indicating support for the project and expressing agreement to maintain any improvement made to the land into the future. This letter can be uploaded and attached to the application in the Stewardship Portal.
Application review & project selection
All project proposals will be reviewed by an integrated MNRF and external stakeholder committee comprised of subject matter experts.
Applications will first be screened to ensure they are eligible under the program (e.g., eligible applicant, eligible activity, match funding requirement, application completed in full). Each project is then evaluated by MNRF district office staff where the project is located. The third and final level of screening is completed by the LSHRP provincial review team comprised of MNRF and external stakeholder subject matter experts. All projects are scored on their ecological value and strategic contribution to conserving Ontario's biodiversity at the landscape level as well as project design, community support and project value and feasibility. More information regarding the criteria used for consideration during application evaluation is provided below.
First screening: Project Eligibility
- Is the applicant organization eligible for funding under the program?
- Is the project eligible for funding?
- Is the 1:1 match funding requirement met?
- Is the application complete?
Second screening: MNRF District Level Review
MNRF district staff review the LSHRP applications for projects located within their district boundary. To support the third level of application review they provide information that includes:
- Knowledge of the applicants ability to implement the project
- Whether or not the proposed project addresses an identified need or priority within the MNRF district
- If the methodology appears sound
- Knowledge of project location and if the project is addressing known priorities of existing landscape level planning (e.g., natural heritage systems plans)
- Ranking the project applications located within their district boundary
- Any comments or concerns with the project as proposed
Third screening: Provincial Review and Final Funding Recommendation to Minister for Approval.
The final level of screening involves scoring each application individually based on its own merits. The scoring used is divided into three categories:
- Contribution to Conserving Ontario's Biodiversity at the Landscape Level (50% of overall score)
- Project Design and Support (25% of overall score)
- Project Value and Feasibility (25% of overall score)
The following are some of the key components that the provincial review team consider when scoring applications. It is strongly encouraged that applicants align their applications and proposed projects with these key components that the LSHRP focuses its funding on:
- Significant Natural Areas: Is the project occurring on important natural heritage lands? (i.e., land with a natural heritage designation or consideration such as a provincially significant wetland)?
- Improvement to Biodiversity Features or Functions: Does implementing the project help to improve or restore an important landscape feature (e.g., wetland habitat) or function (e.g., water quality)? Will the project benefit Ontario's native or rare fish or wildlife species? How important is the project in conserving Ontario's biodiversity features/functions?
- Landscape Context: How is the project positioned in a landscape context? Does the project align with objectives and actions identified within existing landscape level conservation or stewardship plans? Is the project identified within a recognized landscape level plan or strategy or natural heritage system (e.g., Oak Ridges Moraine, Niagara Escarpment, identified in an official plan)? Does the project address the integrated and strategic landscape approach to biodiversity conservation that are proving to be the most effective and efficient methods as discussed in the Moving Biodiversity Conservation to a Landscape Approach paper?
An example of a project that clearly addresses the priorities of an existing landscape level conservation plan would be an invasive species removal and tree planting project that establishes a corridor and provides habitat in the natural core or natural linkage areas identified on the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Land Use Designation Map. There are many existing conservation and stewardship plans throughout Ontario; the example provided on how one might link their project to such a plan is just one of many. Applicants are strongly encouraged to take the time to identify how their project fits into the larger landscape and to clearly make these connections in their application.
- Does the project offer opportunities to buffer or create connections between natural habitats? How does the project fit into the applicant's long-term vision for the landscape? When current and past land use is considered, is the project appropriate for the land on which it is being undertaken?
- Project Approach: Are the actions described as part of the project based on sound science? Are the techniques proposed to undertake the project consistent with best practices and industry standards? Will the applicant be taking all necessary precautions when implementing the project? Will the project have any negative impacts on Ontario's natural heritage or on the people of Ontario?
- Community Support: Is there evidence of community support for the project? Will the project positively impact or support other stakeholder's efforts?
- Stewardship Capacity: Will the natural features on the property be largely self-sustaining, or will they require ongoing management intervention? Does the applicant have the resources and capacity for long-term management of the project?
- Budget: Is the budget accurate and well thought out? Did the applicant provide all of the required details (e.g., list individual costs)?
- Value: Is the cost of the project reasonable (e.g., value for money)?
- Match: Has the applicant indicated at least 50% in match funding or in-kind contribution support? What is the proportion between direct funding and in-kind contributions? Has the applicant indicated more leveraging than required? Have any non-provincial sourced funds been raised already? What proportion of the total project cost do existing committed funds represent?
- Feasibility: Will the project (or project deliverables) be completed by the deadline indicated in the guidelines? Are there components of the proposed project that implementation depends on the actions of others (i.e., is there the potential for a project not to be implemented because the applicant is depending on someone else to complete a task or activity first?)?
- Applicant: Does the applicant have experience managing similar type/scale projects? If the applicant has received MNRF project funding in the past did the applicant complete projects/tasks on time and within budget?
All applicants will be notified of funding decisions by email. Applicants should not proceed with a project on the expectation that it will be funded through the LSHRP. If approved for funding, recipients will receive direction on when to proceed with the project. All activities must be completed before February 28, 2019.
All work on projects should begin once MNRF has notified the applicant in writing that their project has been selected for funding. However, LSHRP funding is retroactive and can be applied to approved project costs incurred between April 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019.
All project deliverables must be completed and reported on by February 28, 2019. If there are components of your overall project that cannot be implemented between April 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019 they should not be included as part of your application funding request.
Reporting and documentation
Reporting and documentation requirements will be outlined in the letter sent to successful applicants and/or in the transfer payment agreement. All documentation must be submitted electronically.
By October 1, 2018, funding recipients must submit to MNRF an interim report (template will be provided to successful applicants) containing:
- A description of work that has been completed to date.
- A financial report indicating expenses to date against the project's approved budget categories.
- A description of whether the project is ‘on-track', a summary of any issues that may have arisen which could impact project completion by the required deadline and actions that have been or will be taken to ensure timely project completion.
By February 28, 2019, funding recipients must provide MNRF with:
- A final report following the instructions provided in Schedule F of the transfer payment agreement as well as in the Recipient Reporting Package.
Funding agreement and payment
Successful applicants will be required to sign a transfer payment agreement with the Government of Ontario that stipulates the terms and conditions of LSHRP grant acceptance and expenditure.
Note: All LSHRP funding recipients are required to have their own insurance coverage for $2 million with an insurer having a best rating of B+ or greater prior to entering into a transfer payment agreement with the Government of Ontario.
After execution of the funding agreement by both parties, MNRF will issue the grant in two payments, following receipt of reports:
- On or before November 1, 2018 following receipt of an interim report (using the template provided) describing all activities accomplished to date and associated expenditures must be provided to MNRF by October 1, 2018.
- On or before March 31, 2019 following receipt of a final report (using the template provided) providing all information as described and agreed to in Schedule F of the Transfer Payment Agreement (e.g., accomplishments and associated expenditures) must be provided to MNRF by February 28, 2019.
Note: depending on the scope of the project MNRF will consider one-time reports and payments (i.e., project implementation is later in year) that will be discussed and agreed to by both the Province and the Recipient on a case by case basis.
Within 30 days of receiving the reports MNRF will review them, and if deemed accurate and complete, MNRF will make the payments as agreed to in the transfer payment agreement with the Recipient.
Some of the terms of the transfer payment through which funding will be provided to successful recipients will address:
- the recipient's insurance obligations in respect of the project
- the recipient's obligations to give credit to and acknowledge receipt of financial assistance from the Government of Ontario in respect of the project
- MNRF's right to audit the recipient's performance under the agreement, including relevant financial records
Successful applicants are responsible for identifying and obtaining any permits, licenses or other approvals required for their projects. Some common legal authorizations that may be required for projects include those issued under the:
- Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
- Endangered Species Act, 2007
- Environmental Assessment Act
- Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
- Species at Risk Act
- Ontario Water Resources Act
- Pesticides Act
These guidelines are intended to assist LSHRP applicants in completing their application for 2018/19 funding. If applicants have questions or require assistance please contact the LSHRP at LSHRP@ontario.ca.