The bridge to a healthier ecological future. 

Knowing where we are headed, from an ecological standpoint, requires an understanding of environmental impacts and recovery strategies. The Restoration of Natural Systems program provides a bridge that connects this knowledge with the practical skills needed to solve complex restoration issues. The program’s holistic approach will empower you, as someone who is passionate about the environment, to make a difference in how we connect with the natural world.


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Program description

The Restoration of Natural Systems (RNS) certificate is a dynamic, interdisciplinary, non-credit program that provides comprehensive knowledge and skills to those interested in the field of ecological restoration. You’ll learn current restoration practices from experienced and knowledgeable instructors, surrounded by peers who share your passion for the natural world.

Similar to the RNS diploma, this certificate program emphasizes a holistic approach, providing training that combines the research and theory of the biophysical sciences with skills for effective collaboration with communities in restoration work. The certificate is designed to provide foundational skills that will give you the ability to assess a site, develop a restoration plan and put it into action. If you need these skills, and already have a credential in a related field then this program is a good fit. If you are looking for foundational skills with the option of more elective courses with a stand-alone credential, visit the RNS diploma program.

This program is supported by a unique partnership between the School of Environmental Studies and the Division of Continuing Studies, resulting in expertly designed courses that are current, comprehensive and delivered with attention to the needs of adult learners. Achieve your goals at your own pace with online and on campus course options and flexible program completion timelines.

The RNS program has received both the Award of Excellence from the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (2001) and the Ecostar Award for Environmental Education from the Capital Regional District (2005).

This program is certified by CIFAL Victoria. CIFAL provides certification for training courses that build the capabilities of individuals and communities towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Participants who successfully complete this course are eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion co-signed by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and CIFAL Victoria.

Program information session

Join us for a free 30-minute Zoom information session where we will introduce you to the RNS program as a whole and outline the differences between the two streams. Learn about the program strengths, where our students typically find work and explore if this program is right for you.

View information session details

Program features

  • A holistic approach to ecological restoration
  • Flexible program completion timelines
  • Combination of on-campus intensive and online course formats
  • Courses instructed by restoration professionals
  • Different perspectives come together as part of a shared vision
  • A recognized university credential for professionals

Program outcomes

By the end of the program, students will be able to:

  • Design and evaluate restoration projects in a broad range of subject areas
  • Use scientifically rigorous approaches to restoration projects
  • Interpret technical reports and scientific publications
  • Identify and understand the decisions and policies governing restoration work
  • Apply research methodologies to restoration projects
  • Use current mapping and sampling technologies
  • Solve problems encountered in implementing restoration projects including dispute resolution, conducting consultative processes, and building consensus
  • Understand issues of national and international restoration
  • Take human impacts into consideration when analyzing and designing restoration projects
  • Incorporate traditional ecological knowledge in restoration planning where appropriate
  • Communicate knowledge about restoration projects to the wider public


UNITAR-CIFAL certification

CIFAL Victoria


UVic logo

View current UNITAR-CIFAL courses and programs.

Accredited program

College of Applied Biologists logo

Graduates of the RNS Program are approved for Applied Biologist Technician ABT registration.

Program partners

The University of Victoria logo

Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Environmental Studies

View our Advisory Committee

United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Regional UN logo

Regional UN logo, designed by W̱SÁNEĆ/Coast Salish emerging artist Sarah Jim
Learn more

Video - Restoration of Natural Systems and your career

Restoration of Natural Systems and your career

Watch this video to see how RNS can benefit your career

Video - RNS and the ecological restoration field

RNS and the ecological restoration field

Watch this video to hear how you can make a difference in the world with ecological restoration skills

Video - RNS: practical, hands-on and real-life

RNS: practical, hands-on and real-life

Watch this video to learn how RNS can give you the practical skills to get out into nature and make a difference

Who is this program for?

The RNS certificate program will appeal to those who:

  • are interested in a career in environmental conservation and restoration
  • want specific information relevant to their environmental or planning work
  • want to complement a degree in a related field with foundational skills and specialized knowledge

Career options

Some of our learners pursue careers in the following roles:
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Restoration Specialist
  • Parks Employee (Municipal, Regional, Provincial, National)
  • Provincial Government Employee
  • Environmental Organization/Not-For-Profit Employee
  • Environmental Project Coordinator
  • Graduate Student


News and resources

Courses and fees

You must complete the following non-credit courses in order to obtain their certificate: five core (required) courses, one elective, and the required ER390 capstone project.

With prior permission from the Academic Administrator, you may take one of the electives from outside of the program. Courses considered for transfer into the program should be at the third- or fourth-year undergraduate level and should focus on a topic related to the field of restoration.

Please see the individual course pages for descriptions and scheduling information.

= Courses open for registration

Program planning

A different selection of courses are offered every term. To see our upcoming offerings, please view our anticipated course schedule. To assist in your program planning, you can also view all course descriptions

Graduation information

For students that have completed the program, please complete the Application to graduate. The deadline to apply for Spring Convocation is December 15 and the deadline to apply for Fall Convocation is July 15.

Estimated fees

Description Fee
Program application fee $125.00
Five required courses ($735 per course) $3,675.00
One elective course ($735 per course) $735.00
One required ER 390 capstone project course ($1470.00 per course) $1,470.00
Estimated Total $6,005.00*
Fees listed in this section are an estimate. Total program fees may vary depending on delivery format, course selections, student fees, textbooks and taxes.

View Awards, grants and bursaries for Restoration of Natural Systems students.

Application information

Admission requirements

The non-credit program is offered at the third- and fourth-year undergraduate level. You should have a minimum of two years of post-secondary studies or an equivalent preparation developed through work and life experience.

A first year ecology or biology course is recommended. If you require a biology upgrade course, we offer a low-cost online self-study option: ER099 Biology and Natural History, which is open for registration at any time.

You should also have a demonstrated interest in the environmental field, indicated by courses taken, positions held, volunteer work or hobbies.

Applicants who speak English as a second language must meet the University of Victoria's English language proficiency requirements before applying to the program.

How to apply

  1. Contact us ( if you want to discuss your education and experience prior to submitting your application.
  2. Click the APPLY ONLINE button. You will be asked to create an account if you are new to Continuing Studies. Please fill out the application form carefully: incomplete applications will result in increased processing times. Note that you will be asked to provide a credit card number to pay the $125 application fee.
  3. Upon acceptance into the program you will receive an acceptance letter, information about how to register for courses and an updated course schedule.

Application dates

Starting in
September 2024
Accepting Applications
Apply by
Aug. 1, 2024
Apply online Contact us for more info
Starting in
January 2025
Accepting Applications
Apply by
Nov. 30, 2024
Apply online Contact us for more info