Species at Risk Conservation Fund
What you need to know about paying a species conservation charge.
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Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 protects endangered or threatened species — animals and plants that are:
- facing imminent extinction or extirpation (extinction from a local area)
- in decline and in danger of disappearing from the province
This page is a summary of the following Ontario laws related to the Species at Risk Conservation Fund:
- Endangered Species Act, 2007
- Species Conservation Charges (O. Reg. 829/21)
- Exemptions – Species subject to Species Conservation Charges
This material has been prepared for reference purposes and has no legal force or effect. For all purposes of interpreting and applying the law users should consult the statues and regulations of Ontario. If there is a conflict between this page and the legislation and regulation, the legislation and regulation take precedence.
About the Species at Risk Conservation Fund
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) protects species at risk by prohibiting activities that:
- impact endangered or threatened species
- may damage or destroy their habitat
Sometimes impacts to species or habitat cannot be avoided. If a business, municipality, individual or other proponent still wants to proceed with an activity that may impact a species or habitat, they must first either:
- obtain a permit or agreement from the ministry
- register the activity to an eligible conditional exemption using the online registry system
Conditional exemptions usually require proponents to:
- take actions to reduce impacts on species
- provide benefits for species
In the case of activities impacting conservation fund species, paying into the Species at Risk Conservation Fund can be required by a permit, agreement or conditional exemption to support protection and recovery activities for eligible species in lieu of other requirements providing benefits for species.
Proponents pay into the fund by paying a species conservation charge. Paying a species conservation charge:
- is optional
- provides greater cost certainty for proponents
- does not remove requirements that proponents take actions to avoid and minimize impacts on species at risk and their habitats
The Species at Risk Conservation Fund is administered and managed by The Species Conservation Action Agency.
The following species at risk are designated as conservation fund species. This means that proponents may be able to pay a species conservation charge into the fund when their project is expected to impact these species:
- populations of Blanding’s Turtle, within the Ontario Shield ecozone (Threatened)
- Bobolink (Threatened)
- Butternut (Endangered)
- Eastern Meadowlark (Threatened)
- Eastern Whip-poor-will (Threatened)
Species conservation charges for animal species are limited to certain activities. Charges involving animals are limited to both:
- activities that would impact an animal species’ habitat
- activities that impact the animal species, but only if the activity is necessary and incidental to the undertaking of an authorized activity that impacts the animal’s habitat
Read O. Reg. 829/21 for more information about eligible activities for animal species.
Eligible authorizations and conditional exemptions
Proponents planning an eligible activity that would impact a conservation fund species may request the fund option (where available) when they are applying for an eligible ESA permit or agreement or select the fund option when registering to an eligible conditional exemption using the online registry system.
The fund option is available in appropriate circumstances for the following permits issued in accordance with the requirements of the following sections of the ESA:
- 17(2)(c): Overall benefit permits
- 17(2)(d): Significant social or economic benefit to Ontario permit
- 19(3): Permits issued to Aboriginal persons
Email SARontario@ontario.ca with any questions about how you can use the fund option in an ESA permit or agreement.
The fund option is available for anyone registering for the following conditional exemptions under O. Reg. 830/21:
These conditional exemptions are available to proponents undertaking eligible activities if they satisfy the requirements of the relevant conditions. This includes the requirement to give notice of registration to the exemption on the online registry system.
Email ESAreg@ontario.ca with questions about how you can use the fund option in a conditional exemption.
For more information on how to register under a conditional exemption, read the Natural Resources Registration Guide.
How to calculate species conservation charges
The amount of a species conservation charge is:
- based on the potential impact of a proposed activity
- intended to be within the range of typical costs that would otherwise have been incurred to carry out beneficial actions required by a permit, agreement or conditional exemption
The person named in an authorization or registered to a conditional exemption must calculate the species conservation charge using the Species Conservation Charges regulation (O. Reg. 829/21). This regulation sets out formulae for calculating the project-specific fees for each conservation fund species.
You must calculate the amount you need to pay on the day the payment is made or due (whichever is earlier).
The formulas consider the following factors:
- Beneficial actions: costs of conducting on-the-ground beneficial actions that would typically be part of an authorization, such as habitat enhancement or creation of nesting structures.
- Cost of land: costs of acquiring or repurposing land, including relevant land related administrative costs, to provide habitat for the species, where appropriate.
- Benefit ratio: the amount of benefit to be generated for the species relative to the amount of impact to the species.
- Administration: administrative costs that would typically have otherwise been incurred by the proponent when completing beneficial actions.
- Inflation: an inflationary change ensuring the value of certain formulae components remains appropriate over time.
Inflation Notice: In accordance with Ontario Regulation 829/21, some variables of the species conservation charge formulae are to be adjusted for inflation as of February 1, 2023. Email ESAReg@ontario.ca with questions about how to calculate a species conservation charge.
Payment due dates
Permits or agreements
For ESA permits or agreements, the species conservation charge must be paid on or before the payment date specified in the permit or agreement.
If there is no payment date, the charge must be paid at least one day before the authorized activity begins.
For a conditional exemption, the species conservation charge must be paid at least one day before the activity begins or 30 days after registration of the activity in the online registry system, whichever is earlier.
How to make a payment
Payment must be made to the Species Conservation Action Agency before an activity begins.
Under limited circumstances (over-payment or if the project, or part of the project, is not going ahead), species conservation charge payments may be eligible for a refund.