Arctic Species Conservation Fund | WWF-Canada
	© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada

Helping wildlife thrive in a changing Arctic

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund supports research and stewardship actions to safeguard some of Canada’s most iconic species.
Beluga whales, bowhead whales, narwhals, barren-ground caribou, polar bears and walrus are among the many Arctic wildlife to benefit from the high-quality research and stewardship through the WWF-Canada Arctic Species Conservation Fund. Through this research we seek to secure meaningful policies and legislation that are effective and appropriate for the conservation of Arctic species across their range, incorporate the best available science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and include the direct engagement of Indigenous peoples.
Since the Fund began in 2016, more than 25 projects have been supported across Canada’s Arctic. Results from these projects include:
  • The development of a non-invasive method of studying bowhead whale feeding habits and population demographics using drones.
  • Updated polar bear subpopulation estimates, as well as new information on polar bear movements and reproductive output in Western Hudson Bay.
  • Acoustic monitoring and aerial surveys to determine how increased ship traffic and ice breaking along proposed shipping routes affect marine mammals in north Baffin Island.

Arctic Species Conservation Fund projects

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund is now in its second year. Our 2017/18 projects include research on the following:


Non-invasive research techniques, including the use of aerial drones, underwater microphones and aerial surveys will be used to:
  • Study how Churchill River estuary beluga mothers and calves communicate with each other.
  • Identify important narwhal habitat near proposed shipping routes through Lancaster Sound.
  • Determine population characteristics (such as growth rates, number of calves, age structure and distribution) for narwhals in Eclipse Sound and bowhead whales in Cumberland Sound.

Polar bears

Polar bears from Hudson Bay to the Beaufort Sea are the subject of several research projects designed to:
  • Map all known polar bear denning sites across Canada and develop a model to predict denning habitat for areas that have not yet been surveyed.
  • Monitor the movements of polar bears in Hudson Bay to limit human-polar bear conflicts in and around communities and track distribution changes at the southern end of their range.
  • Study changes in the bears’ diet and habitat use as it relates to the reduction of sea ice in Hudson Bay, which limits their access to seals.
  • Assess the Southern Beaufort Sea and Davis Strait subpopulations, two groups which have experienced drastic sea ice declines in recent years.

Barren-ground caribou

With almost all of Canada’s barren-ground caribou herds in the midst of steep population declines, our supported research projects will:
  • Determine how caribou are disturbed by human activity by observing barren-ground caribou close to and far away from industrial development sites.
  • Map the availability and quality of food on the Bluenose West herd’s calving grounds.
  • Identify calving areas and water crossings in the Northwest Territories that are still being used, and compare this to habitat historically used when caribou population numbers were higher. 
  • Count calves and monitor the health of the Qamanirjuaq herd, one of the largest herds remaining in Canada.
  • Develop a Traditional Ecological Knowledge database to increase community involvement in decisions around future development proposals and land use planning.
  • Support the development of a locally-owned harvest monitoring program in Arviat to better understand how many caribou are being harvested annually as the herd is declining.
  • Determine unique characteristics of the Qamanirjuaq herd’s calving grounds, and learn how they are changing in relation to a warming climate, through the analysis of decades of collaring data.

Who can apply

The Arctic Species Conservation Fund supports projects aligned with WWF-Canada’s priority Arctic species. Proposals from a variety of sources are eligible to receive funding, including universities, independent researchers, community organizations, consulting firms, government and non-governmental organizations. All fields of study (western science, TEK, social sciences, physical sciences, etc.) are eligible to apply. The types of projects the Fund seeks to support include:
  • Innovations in wildlife research techniques.
  • Development of non-invasive research methods.
  • Support for the development of community-driven marine or terrestrial protected areas and networks.
  • Quantifying the effects of environmental change on priority species.
  • Environmental characterization of barren-ground caribou calving ground habitat in a changing climate.
  • Quantifying the effects of disturbance on polar bears while denning.
  • Methods of reducing human-polar bear conflict in communities.
  • Quantifying the effects of ice breaking and underwater noise on marine mammals.
  • Identification and characterization of critical habitat for marine mammals.

The 2018 call for proposals is now closed

2018 grantees will be announced by April 6.