About Environment and Natural Resources

What we do

Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), as part of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), works to promote and support the sustainable use and development of natural resources and to protect, conserve and enhance the Northwest Territories (NWT) environment for the social and economic benefit of all residents.

The GNWT shares this responsibility with Indigenous and community governments, federal and territorial departments, boards and agencies, and every resident of the NWT.

Some of our work

  • Collaborate with Indigenous governments, communities and the public to protect the NWT environment and make sure resources are used sustainably and wisely.
  • Manage and regulate on-shore waters, wildlife species, wildlife habitat and forests in the NWT.
  • Assess, monitor and mitigate impacts of development on NWT forests, water, wildlife and wildlife habitat.
  • Negotiate and implement transboundary water agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions.
  • Support and promote climate change mitigation, adaptation and knowledge sharing.

How we do it

The GNWT collaborates with Indigenous governments, communities, the public and partners to protect the NWT environment and ensure the wise and sustainable use of resources.

Natural resource policies and programs are developed using the best available scientific, local and traditional knowledge, to make sure management decisions are current and relevant to the NWT.

The ENR Strategic Plan 2015-2020 outlines the goals and objectives to help the GNWT achieve its vision and mission. Departmental priorities as set out in the Strategic Plan are complementary to the GNWT Sustainable Development Policy and the Land Use and Sustainability Framework. They are also compatible with the ENR mandate.

Department responsibilities

Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change

The Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change Division coordinates climate change action in the GNWT, leads the implementation of the government's Knowledge Agenda, coordinates ENR’s input into environmental assessment and regulatory processes, and fulfills ENR's regulatory obligation to monitor air quality and cumulative environmental impacts. The division also works to conserve land and water in the NWT in partnership with Indigenous governments and others.

Environmental Protection and Waste Management

The Environmental Protection and Waste Management Division works to prevent or reduce the impact of human activities on the natural environment so that a high quality environment is maintained. The Environmental Protection section develops programs, policies and provides technical advice regarding spills, contaminated sites and pesticides. The section provides information and technical advice through environmental assessments, Land and Water Board processes, develops programs with respect to hazardous substances, solid and hazardous waste management. This section also leads the coordination of the GNWT’s regulatory spill response. The Taiga Environmental Laboratory works within the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Division to provide analysis of water and soil for monitoring programs, to assist inspectors in determining compliance, and for the routine assessment of community waste and water supplies.

Forest Management

The Forest Management Division ensures NWT forest resources are used sustainably and that people, property, communities and values at risk are protected from wildfire. The Forest Resources section issues and tracks permits and licences for forest harvesting, and maintains an inventory of forest volumes and tree types from productive forest areas. Sample plots are maintained across NWT to measure and track changes to forest growth and species composition, and forest health surveys are conducted annually to monitor forest insects and diseases. The Fire Operations section includes firefighters, aircraft and support personnel spread across NWT for wildfire management and leads training of all fire personnel, prevention activities across NWT and community protection efforts. The Forest Management Services section manages the warehouses and equipment required in support of the division’s programs, as well as the weather, lightning detection and radio networks across NWT. The Aviation Services section manages aircraft procurement for the department, air tanker bases across NWT and the air attack program. The Program Management and Support section provides financial, human resource, and administrative support and manages the division’s payroll system for Extra Fire Fighters hired to support Fire Operations. 

Water Management and Monitoring

The Water Management and Monitoring Division coordinates the delivery of NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and Action Plan with water partners, negotiates bilateral water management agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions, implements existing agreements, conducts water quantity and water quality monitoring throughout the territory, and provides technical comments and regulatory advice to NWT co-management boards responsible for issuing water licenses. The division also coordinates Ministerial review and approval processes for Type ‘A’ water licences, and Type ‘B’ water licences where a public hearing is held, as required under the Waters Act.


The Wildlife Division is responsible for the stewardship and management of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The Division is actively engaged in a wide range of wildlife, wildlife health and wildlife habitat research, monitoring and management programs across the Northwest Territories. The Division also develops wildlife legislation, implements the Wildlife Act and the Species at Risk (NWT) Act, supports species at risk recovery efforts, tracks biodiversity, maintains a wildlife data repository, provides technical expertise and advice on wildlife and habitat issues in environmental assessment and regulatory processes, and provides information to the public and stakeholders about wildlife management and conservation initiatives. This work includes addressing individual and cumulative effects of disturbance on wildlife and wildlife habitat, and supports the needs of other wildlife management authorities and co-management partners to achieve shared goals and priorities.

On the Land

The On the Land Unit works collaboratively with communities, Indigenous governments, co-management partners, academic institutions, non-government organizations and other partners to develop research and programs that are community-driven and focus on northern values, needs and priorities. Guided by the ENR Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan, the Unit coordinates ENR’s programs and services related to traditional knowledge; traditional economy including support for harvesters; country foods; public education and outreach, including Hunter Education; and land-based learning. The Unit administers key aspects of the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program, including fur advances, receiving and shipping of furs to auction, prime fur bonuses and grubstake. The Unit also chairs the GNWT Interdepartmental Traditional Knowledge Working Group, and provides support and capacity to ENR divisions on traditional knowledge implementation.

Field Support

The Field Support Unit provides a range of support services to the field staff and other operational personnel; specifically, the coordination of the department’s compliance, training, and health and safety programs. The Unit ensures all Departmental staff members receive tools, advice and assistance in fulfilling ENR’s mandate.