Reserve Lands and Environment Management Program

Apply for funding to increase your community's land management responsibilities.

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About the program

The Reserve Land and Environment Management Program (RLEMP) provides funding to First Nations to develop the capacity needed to manage and exercise increased responsibility over their reserve land, resources and environment under the Indian Act. 

Participating in RLEMP can prepare a community for transition to a more comprehensive land management regime, such as the First Nations Land Management Regime, or comprehensive self-government.

Three levels

There are three levels of responsibility under RLEMP.  As First Nations progress from one level to the next, they develop the lands and environmental management capacity required to manage their reserve lands.

Level 1: Training and development 

  • First Nations are funded to train and certify one land manager through the Professional Land Management Training and Certification Program [hyperlink] and set up a lands office.
  • First Nations gradually take on land management responsibilities in partnership with INAC.
  • This is typically a two-year process.

Level 2: Operational

  • Once a First Nation has a certified land manager, they progress to the operational level where they actively manage their reserve lands, natural resources and environment under the Indian Act.
  • Funding is determined by a formula that considers:
    • population of the First Nation
    • size of the reserve land base
    • the type, number and complexity of land and natural resources interests and transactions registered in the Indian Lands Registry System
    • environmental activities, such as:
      • environmental site assessments
      • environmental impact assessments
      • environmental monitoring and audits
    • compliance activities
    • level of responsibility

Level 3: Delegated authority  (closed to new entrants since 2011)

  • First Nations have additional lands management authority under section 53 or section 60 of the Indian Act.

As First Nations progress through RLEMP, funding increases in recognition of the additional administrative responsibilities performed under the Indian Act.  These administrative responsibilities include:

  • lands management such as leases or permits
  • environmental management such as environmental site assessments
  • natural resource management such as permits for natural resource extraction like fishing and logging
  • community-based land use planning such as zoning and designations
  • compliance management such as promotion, monitoring, and enforcement

While a First Nation is training a land manager, they are eligible for 80% of their operational funding to set up and start running a lands office.  Once they have a certified lands manager, First Nations then receive 100% of their operational funding as they take on full responsibility for lands and environmental management activities.

Since 2011, many First Nations have progressed from level 2 to the First Nations Land Management Regime.

Program requirements

Although First Nations participating in RLEMP are responsible for the administration of lands and environmental transactions, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is still liable for all transactions.

Terms and conditions for each First Nation participating in RLEMP are outlined in a funding agreement and include:

  • a monthly expense plan
  • a schedule of payment for annual funding allocation
  • program and service delivery requirements as indicated in the Statement of Work by Roles and Responsibilities
  • annual reporting requirements

Three checklists have been developed to help First Nations and INAC meet program requirements:

All efforts are made to ensure that First Nations remain compliant under RLEMP.  However, First Nations that are unable to meet the terms and conditions of their funding agreement will no longer receive funding under RLEMP and INAC will reassume related responsibilities. 

Who can apply?


There is no deadline to apply. RLEMP accepts applications throughout the year. But there are deadlines to apply for Level 1: Professional Land Management Certification Program.

How to apply?

A First Nation or tribal council must complete a First Nation Entry Request and Capacity Self-Assessment and submit it to their INAC regional office

INAC will conduct an assessment. Eligibility criteria include:

Once accepted into RLEMP, the First Nation or tribal council must pass a band council resolution agreeing to the terms of the program.

To find out more:

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