There’s a Conservation Consensus

Public attitudes on conservation and the role of international and indigenous partnership.

On behalf of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, Abacus Data conducted a national public opinion survey of a representative sample of 2,000 Canadians. The study explored public attitudes towards conservation, Canada’s role in meeting its commitment to conserve natural spaces and the role of international and indigenous partnership.

Download the full report

Here’s a highlight of what we found:

There’s near consensus support for conserving more natural spaces.

Almost all Canadians support conserving more of Canada’s natural spaces in principle feeling that clean water and air, protecting the land for future generations, and dealing with climate change are the more important reasons why conservation is important.

There is broad support for Canada meeting its conservation commitments.

Almost nine in ten Canadians want Canada to achieve its 2010 commitment to conserving 17% of land and fresh water and most hope for Canada to be a world leader on the issue.

Vast majority value international cooperation on conservation.

88% believe government should prioritize working with other countries to conserve and protect ecologically important lands. There is also widespread support for Canada to co-operate with international organizations to help conserve plants and animals.

There is strong support for Indigenous-led conservation.

Almost 80% back a federal program to support Indigenous protected areas that conserve lands and wildlife. Furthermore, eight in ten Canadians either strongly support or support long-term federal funding for Indigenous Guardian programs.

Most see the climate benefits of making conservation gains.

When told that scientists have shown the boreal region plays a major role in capturing and storing carbon dioxide, there is a near consensus that it is a good idea to protect and conserve more of Canada’s boreal region.


According to David Coletto: “Conservation unites Canadians. It’s rare to see this kind of consensus on issues, but people overwhelmingly agree the country should do more to conserve nature. They want leaders to work together here at home and internationally. And they want to empower Indigenous communities to manage the lands they know so well.”


The survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over from April 4th to 9th, 2019. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is
+/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

The study was conducted for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign.


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