Protected areas of Canada have been created to protect ecological integrity, as well as to provide areas for recreation and education. Most of the protected areas in Canada are terrestrial; however, there has been a growing focus to also protect coastal areas, such as the Bowie Seamount. Different classifications of protected area exist, depending on the organization which manages them. Similarly, some protected areas have a greater focus on ecological integrity than others.
The primary focus of national parks is to preserve ecological integrity. These parks are administered by Parks Canada. National Marine Conservation Areas, while also under federal control, do not afford the same level of protection.
The Canadian Wildlife Service, a division of Environment Canada, manages the National Wildlife Areas, Marine Wildlife Areas, and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries for the protection of wildlife. A National Wildlife Area protects any land or marine environment within the Canadian territorial waters, that is, extending up to 12 nautical miles (22 km) away from a coast per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. A Marine Wildlife Area is used to protect marine environments that are within Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone, extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline. Two separate areas, one a National Wildlife Area and the other a Marine Wildlife Area, could be created to protect a contiguous zone covering land and marine features extending to the 200-nautical-mile (370 km) limit.
Provincial and territorial governments also protect areas within their boundaries.
Regional governments and local governments also create parks; however, these tend to have a greater focus on recreation.
Another form of conservation is made by land owners who want to preserve nature for future generations by placing a covenant on their land.