Environment Canada

Environment Canada

September 04, 2009 14:21 ET

Government of Canada Celebrates $500 Million Milestone in Donations Through Ecological Gifts Program

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 4, 2009) - Ted Menzies, Member of Parliament for Macleod and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, on behalf of Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Jim Prentice, today joined Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in announcing one of the largest valued Ecological Gift donations ever made in Canada - conservation easements, generously donated by the late Daryl Kenneth ("Doc") Seaman, on four OH Ranch properties.

"The Government of Canada honours the late Doc Seaman for this wonderful gift to the people of Alberta," said Minister Prentice. "With these conservation easements Doc Seaman's conservation legacy has been secured.

"The OH Ranch is an excellent example of federal funds and incentives helping to create a strong stewardship partnership that will conserve important landscapes and protect habitat for our species at risk, while supporting local ranching operations," added Minister Prentice.

The four OH Ranch properties, located near Calgary, Medicine Hat, and Drumheller, cover nearly 7,200 hectares of ecologically sensitive lands in Southern Alberta. The donated lands are equivalent in area to Dinosaur Provincial Park, and the donated conservation easements are valued at $26 million. These properties are located in the ridings of Members of Parliament Ted Menzies (Macleod) and LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat), who attended the event, and Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot).

"The achievement we are celebrating today is a great example of Canadians' passion and engagement towards their natural environment. This will leave a wonderful legacy for generations to come," said Mr. Menzies. "Conserving precious habitats like these is one of the best ways to help our ecosystems and species thrive and survive."

Mr. Seaman's gift is the Alberta's largest donated conservation easement, and brings the total donated through Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts program to the milestone of $500 million.

As part of the federal Ecological Gifts Program, the Seaman family, who have been ranching on the land for over 20 years, will receive enhanced tax benefits in return for their generosity, in addition to the charitable donation receipt received from the recipient organizations.

"Doc Seaman has been a long time supporter and friend of Ducks Unlimited Canada and our wetland conservation mission," said Jack H. Hole, DUC President. "He was well respected as a businessman, and a friend of the environment. Through this generous donation, DU Canada is honoured to continue Doc's conservation legacy in southern Alberta."

"OH Ranch is a remarkable conservation project" says John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada. "This demonstrates the impact of the EcoGift program. But it is also a great example of the difference one person can make. Doc Seaman has left an incredible conservation legacy to all Canadians and we are honoured to be a part of this project."

The Ecological Gifts Program provides tax incentives to private land-owners that donate ecologically sensitive land, or partial interest rights to the land, to eligible charitable organizations or government bodies that in turn protect the land in perpetuity. In Budget 2006, ecological gifts were made 100-percent exempt from capital-gains tax.

(Egalement offert en francais)



Many wildlife species live in natural areas on private lands near the city or in the country. Landowners play an important role in maintaining this biodiversity when they choose to protect the natural features of their property.

What is an Ecological Gift?

An "EcoGift" is a donation of ecologically sensitive land, or a partial interest in ecologically sensitive land - such as a conservation easement, covenant or servitude - to a qualified recipient that protects this land in perpetuity. Ecological gifts are as varied in type as the Canadian landscape, ranging from wetlands, shores and forests, to grasslands and rocky cliffs. A wide range of lands qualify as ecologically sensitive and may be eligible as ecological gifts.

Each donation, no matter how small, is significant. In fact, over the past 14 years, landowners across Canada have donated 758 ecological gifts, covering over 130,929 hectares of land, and valued at $500 million. More than one-third of these ecological gifts protect areas designated as being of national or provincial significance, and many are home to species at risk.

Ecological gifts can be donated to a number of recipient types, including environmental charities approved by Environment Canada, federal, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, and municipal or public bodies that perform a function of government.

The land must be certified as ecologically sensitive by Canada's Minister of the Environment or a delegated certification authority in accordance with the provisions of the federal Income Tax Act (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/i-3.3/63994.html), and must further meet the requirements of the Act in order to give rise to special tax benefits.

In addition to the peace of mind of knowing that the land will be managed by the recipient according to mutually agreed-upon conservation goals and objectives, donors also benefit by being eligible to receive enhanced income tax benefits for their certified donations.

What is the Ecological Gifts Program?

The Ecological Gifts Program is a national program that promotes ecological stewardship by providing tax incentives to protect Canada's environmental heritage. The Program was established to combat habitat loss and degradation and to conserve important wildlife habitats and ecologically sensitive land across Canada.

The Ecological Gifts Program works to develop and build partnerships so that communities, businesses, and individual Canadians can help in conserving and protecting nature, and in doing so, leave a legacy for future generations.

The Program is administered by Environment Canada under the federal Income Tax Act. Since 1995, donations of ecologically-sensitive land, or easements, covenants and servitudes on such land, have been eligible for special tax benefits. Changes to the Income Tax Act introduced in the 2000 and 2006 federal budgets have since enhanced the Program's income tax benefits.

In addition to the charitable donations tax credit (for individuals) and the charitable donations deduction (for corporations), donations made on or after May 2, 2006 and certified under the Ecological Gifts Program are exempt to tax on any capital gains that have accrued in respect of the property.

What are the benefits of participating in the Ecological Gifts Program?

As an individual or corporate landowner, one can benefit through participating by: creating a natural legacy for current and future generations, increasing the quality of life in your community by helping to conserve ecologically sensitive lands and adjacent waters where mammals, birds, fish and plants make their homes, receiving significant tax benefits, and illustrating your support for ecological fiscal reform while inspiring others to do the same.

Each donation helps form part of a network of protected areas that reaches across every habitat type and region in Canada. Through the formation of this network, Canada's wildlife and natural heritage can remain healthy and prosperous.

To help Canadian landowners and conservation groups preserve Canada's natural heritage, the Government of Canada has eliminated the tax on capital gains for all certified ecological gift donations made on or after May 2, 2006 by reducing the inclusion rate to zero.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations