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Press Release

Québec's strategy for protected areas

QUÉBEC ANNOUNCES THE CREATION OF 32,000 SQUARE KILOMETRES OF NEW PROTECTED AREAS.

Québec, July 5, 2002 – The Minister of State for Municipal Affairs, Greater Montréal, Environment and Water, André Boisclair, the Minister of Natural Resources, François Gendron, and the Minister in charge of Wildlife and Parks, Richard Legendre, today announced the creation of 11 new territorial reserves of protected area in the boreal forest and on the North Shore, and of six parks, that will increase total protected area of Québec territory from 2.9 to 4.8%. This announcement is part of the Québec Action Plan whose objective is to protect 8% of the total surface of Québec by 2005, representing its biological diversity in the different land, fresh water, tidal, and maritime environments.

  "This initiative is an important step forward," declared Minister Boisclair. "These 32,000 square kilometres are equivalent to 65 times the surface of Montréal Island. This is the greatest conservation challenge that Québec has encountered since the creation of Québec's first park more than one hundred years ago."

The new reserves

The 11 new reserves are set forth hereafter: an old forest sector of René-Levasseur island, a large section of the Groulx mountains, a vast softwood forest, peat bogs and dry lands around the Gensart lake, a section representative of the drumlin landscapes of Bright Sand lake, the northern part of the Matamec watershed, the grey pine woods, hills and valley of Belmont and Magpie lakes, the buttes of the Lac aux Sauterelles, more than 4,000 square kilometres of the magnificent Natashquan river valley, a large section along the rocky coast of Harrington-Harbour, some very old forests in the foothills of the Guernesé lake, and the limestone hills in the Brador region. The lands placed in reserves as protected areas on the North Shore amount to approximately 13,000 square kilometres. These undeveloped areas are quite representative of the biodiversity of the northeastern section of the boreal forest.

"The establishment of new protected areas is a good example of durable development based on our quest for equilibrium between economic, environmental and social requirements," said Minister Gendron. "The Ministère des Ressources Naturelles is proud to participate in this endeavour by profiting from its vast territorial knowledge and by working to select some thirty exceptional forest ecosystems. The Québec Action Plan, announced today, is the fruit of exemplary collaboration and will lead to the elaboration of a network of protected areas that will be the pride of all."

Furthermore, Québec has decided to create, within the next five years, five immense national parks north of the 52nd parallel, and a sixth park where the boreal forest meets the tundra. This will increase the reserves by some 19,000 square kilometers of unique natural wildlife and will triple the area of the national park network. First, with its Inuit partners, the Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Administration, the Government of Québec will create three new parks in Nunavik: the Parc des Pingualuit, the Parc des Monts-Torngat-et-de-la-Rivière-Koroc and the Parc des Lacs-Guillaume-Delisle-et-à-l’Eau-Claire. Next, two additional projects will be developed, i.e. the Parc du Cap-Wolstenholme and the Parc des Monts-de-Puvirnituk. Finally, in collaboration with the Mistissini Cree Nation, the Parc Albanel-Temascamie-Otish is currently being developped.

"Because of the role they play in protecting and developing the natural environment, National Parks are a key element in the government's strategy for protected areas. We can be proud of these new government initiatives, which promote increased access to Québec's natural heritage. Moreover, partnerships developed with the Cree and Inuit nations will give a unique flavour to these new parks where visitors from at home and abroad will be able to observe the exceptional measures taken by different cultures to live in and on the wilderness," emphasized Minister Legendre.

The process of reserving protected areas signifies prohibition of all mining, forestry, and energy operations throughout the territory. The only such activities allowed will be the existing activities of hunting, fishing, outdoor activities, summer and winter resorts, and ancestral and traditional activities of first nations peoples. Following public consultations, which will define the most appropriate means of protecting these new protected territories, the scope and span of these existing activities will be re-evaluated as required.

In this respect, regional public hearings concerning the territories placed in reserve will be held during this year by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), in collaboration with the regional development councils in order to build a high level of involvement within the populations affected by the projected protected areas. We want to show that we are determined to integrate traditional economic activities, based on natural resources, and new economic activities, such as ecotourism, from a sustainable development viewpoint," said Minister Boisclair. "This could flourish in a new network of protected areas, with more stringent attention to the conservation of valuable, rare and fragile species."

Finally, during the upcoming fall session, the National Assembly will be asked to create the required legal framework and respond to international standards for protected areas by adopting a bill to facilitate establishment of reserves for protected areas and create a framework for their protection and administration.

"These protected areas are our future," said Minister Boisclair, who concluded by saying: "By developing our biodiversity and the beauty and educational and tourist potential of our landscape, we in our generation are receiving Nature's gift and retransmitting it to generations to come."

Further information concerning Québec's strategy and Action Plan for Protected Areas is available at the Department of the Environment's Internet site, at the following address: www.menv.gouv.qc. ca.

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Sources:

Jean-Louis Laplante
Press Relations Manager
Office of the Minister of State of Municipal Affairs, Greater Montréal, Environment and Water
Tel. : (418) 521-3911
  Louise Barrette
Communications Department
Ministère de l'Environnement
Tel. : (418) 521-3823, poste 4163
Claude Chartier
Press Relations Manager
Cabinet of the Minister of Natural Resources
Tel. : (418) 643-7295
  Isabelle Lewis
Press Relations Manager
Cabinet of the Minister in charge of
Wildlife and Parks
Tel. : (418) 528-8063

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