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Canadian Nature Survey

Key Message

Nature-based activities make a significant contribution to the national economy and individual Canadians’ quality of life.


Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of Canada. (2014). 2012 Canadian Nature Survey: Awareness, participation, and expenditures in nature-based recreation, conservation, and subsistence activities. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers.


This report looked for evidence for the contribution that nature makes to the national economy and individual Canadians’ quality of life. It measured their awareness, participation, and investments in a wide range of nature-based activities, including valuable results at the national level and for each province and territory. The information is intended to support the diverse policy and program needs of the sponsoring agencies in meeting their obligations to manage the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s biodiversity.

The Survey was developed through active collaboration between the federal government and all 13 provincial and territorial governments, with the involvement of officials from departments including those responsible for managing natural resources, wildlife, land use, nature and biodiversity conservation.The survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of approximately 15,000 Canadian adults (age 18 and older) and a selection of nearly 9,000 Web panelists during 2012-2013.

Estimates at the national level generally achieve a margin of error of no more than +/-2% when the full address-based sample is available. Estimates at the province and territory levels generally achieve a margin of error of +/-4%.

This report is also available in French at:


Several of many highlights from the report include:

  • More than two-thirds of Canadian adults (70%) chose to spend time outdoors in the last year in order to experience nature, and almost half of Canadian adults travelled to experience more nature (47%).
  • Awareness of the terms “species at risk”, “biodiversity”, and “ecosystem services” was consistently high in every province and territory.
  • 89% of Canadian adults participated in at least one of over 30 different nature-based activities, with the most popular being picnicking or relaxing in nature (71% nationally), followed by reading or viewing nature media (66%); hiking, climbing, horseback riding (64%); and gardening or landscaping with plants (51%).
  • 13% of Canadian adults volunteered in nature conservation away from their homes during an average of 31 days per year.
  • 4.6 million Canadians (almost 19% of all adults) gave money for donations or membership dues to nature or conservation organizations.
  • Over all, Canadian adults made an estimated $41.3 billion (Cdn) in expenditures for nature-based activities in the 12 months prior to completing the survey, with the greatest amount dedicated to non-motorized, non-consumptive activities.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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