Reserve Lands and Environment Management Program

The Reserve Land and Environmental Management Program provides funding to First Nations to develop capacity to manage reserve land, resources and environment.

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About the program

The Reserve Land and Environment Management Program (RLEMP) provides funding to First Nations to develop capacity to 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 model, such as First Nations Land Management, or comprehensive self-government.

Levels of responsibility

There are 3 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 1 land manager through the Professional Land Management Training and Certification Program and set up a lands office
  • First Nations gradually take on land management responsibilities in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)
  • Training and development is typically a 2 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
  • ISC no longer has the primary responsibility for land management instruments but retain the approval function

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
  • First Nations will take on the approval function for land management activities as outlined under their delegation

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

Since 2011, many First Nations have chosen to move from level 2 to managing their lands with a land code through the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management.

Program requirements

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

Three checklists have been developed to help First Nations and ISC 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 ISC will reassume related responsibilities.


Funding is determined by a formula that considers:

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.

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 the nearest ISC regional office.

ISC 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.


Contact your regional office or the ISC Public enquiries  at 1-800-567-9604 and ask to speak with an RLEMP specialist in your region.

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