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Canada Just Promised $1.3 Billion to Save Endangered Species & Land

Canada’s 2018 budget was announced on Tuesday and while there were many notable components revealed, environmental groups can rest assured that conservation efforts are top of mind.

The budget outlines $1.3 billion to be used over five years to expand protected lands and to keep endangered and threatened species safe.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity established a goal for countries to set aside 17% of its land and freshwater by 2020.

Take Action: Stand Up for The Arctic

Although the Liberal government had confirmed its commitment to that goal, it was lagging in action before this week.

In 2017, a report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) indicated that Canada ranked last among G7 countries when it came to protecting land and freshwater areas.

At the time of the report, Canada only had 10.6% of its land protected from development.

Read More: 5 Ways Canada's 2018 Budget Is a Step in the Right Direction

The funding allocated to conservation reaffirms the Liberal government’s plan to protect at least 17% by 2020.

"Canada is one of the most beautiful places on Earth," Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech. "It's up to all of us to help keep it that way."

The budget allocates $500 billion to a nature fund that will work to protect sensitive ecosystems, increase species protection and help Indigenous groups be part of conservation efforts.

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"This budget is a game-changer,'' Graham Saul, head of Nature Canada told the Canadian Press. "We think that Canada's wildlife would also applaud.''

The conservation measures were also welcomed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and CPAWS, according to the Canadian Press.

Not all environmental advocates were happy with this year’s budget though, as some argue there is not enough funding outlined to combat climate change.

Read More: February's Best Environmental Photos Show Why We Need to Take Action for Planet Earth

"The horrific reality of conservation of nature in 2018 is, you can draw a line around something and the species inside that line will still die if the climate changes under them,'' Green party Leader Elizabeth May told the Canadian Press.

Another $167 million over five years is earmarked for research and preservation of endangered whales, according to the Canadian Press.

"If we barrel ahead with things like Kinder Morgan pipeline and an increase in tanker traffic, that will be the end of the southern resident killer whale,'' May added.

Read More: 'Trump Forest' Hits a Million Trees in Bid to Curb Climate Change

The government will be implementing a federal carbon pricing system that will apply to any province or territory that is without an equivalent system by the end of 2018.

This federal option would see a levy on fossil fuels that will increase every year and measures to set limits on pollution within industries (the more a facility pollutes above its limit, the more it will pay), according to the Government of Canada.

Carbon pricing is already in place in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

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Funds from this initiative will go back to the province or territory where they were collected, and the budget allocates $109 million over the next five years to help Environment Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency stay on top of this commitment.

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