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Legislation - NWT and Canada

Working together to conserve species

Cooperation is crucial to the conservation and protection of species at risk. In 1996, the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada , together with other provinces and territories, signed an Accord agreeing to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.

The territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) both apply in the Northwest Territories (NWT). They are designed to work in a complementary fashion with other legislation and cooperatively with Indigenous people to protect species at risk and their habitats.

Each Act has a legal list of species at risk: the NWT List of Species at Risk (territorial) and SARA Schedule 1 (federal). For the NWT List of Species at Risk, the decisions are made by the Conference of Management Authorities. For SARA Schedule 1, the decisions are made by the Government of Canada.

To learn how the legislation works to protect NWT species at risk, see links under Our Work.

Northwest Territories

The Species at Risk (NWT) Act came into force in February 2010. It provides a process and tools to identify, protect and recover species at risk in the Northwest Territories. It allows for concerns about species to be addressed at the NWT level.

The Species at Risk Committee (SARC) is an independent group of experts that assesses the biological status of species that may be at risk of extinction in the NWT using Indigenous and community knowledge and science.

The Conference of Management Authorities (CMA) is the group of co-management boards and governments that share responsibility for the conservation and recovery of species in the NWT. They provide direction, coordination and leadership on species at risk.

The NWT Species at Risk Secretariat provides professional, technical and administrative assistance to the CMA and SARC to support them in exercising their powers and performing their duties.

The NWT Species Conservation and Recovery Fund provides funding for projects that support the long-term conservation and recovery of species that are at risk in the NWT.


The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is a national committee of experts that assesses the biological status of species in Canada. COSEWIC makes a recommendation on “risk level” to the federal government. The evaluation process is independent, open and transparent. For more information on Canadian status assessment go directly to the COSEWIC website or view their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Some species in the NWT are legally listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), legislation for the protection of species at risk in Canada. After receiving COSEWIC's assessment and consulting with the appropriate Minister(s) and the wildlife management boards, the responsible federal Minister makes a recommendation to the Governor in Council and the decision is made on whether or not to add species to the list of species at risk (Schedule 1) on the Species at Risk Act, or to refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration. For more information on SARA, visit the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.

The Government of Canada offers funding programs that support work to conserve and protect species at risk and their habitats.