Québec’s strategy for protected areas:
QUÉBEC ANNOUNCES THE PROTECTION OF 3 220 SQUARE KILOMETRES OF TERRITORY IN NORTHWESTERN QUÉBEC
Québec, March 4, 2003– Mr. André Boisclair, Minister of State for Municipal Affairs and Greater Montréal, the Environment and Water, and Mr. François Gendron, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that the government would ensure the protection of seven large natural areas, namely six biodiversity reserves and one aquatic reserve covering more than 3 200 square kilometers of lakes, rivers, peatlands, marshes and forest in Abitibi and Baie-James.
" With these new protected areas, we are making another major step forward in Québec as we are beginning to protect important sections of the region’s biological diversity," stated Minister Boisclair.
The seven new protected areas are: Boastwain Bay Biodiversity Reserve, Ministikawatin Peninsula Biodiversity Reserve, North Harricana River Aquatic Reserve, Missisicabi Plain Biodiversity Reserve, Muskuuchii Hills Biodiversity Reserve, Vaudray and Joannès Lakes Biodiversity Reserve, and Lake Sabourin Biodiversity Reserve.
Several of these protected territories are situated in the area concerned by the Paix des Braves Agreement signed on February 7, 2002, which provides for a greater participation by Cree communities in the protection of large natural areas. In particular, the territory of the Muskuuchii Hills Biodiversity Reserve is identified in this agreement as being an area of great interest for conservation purposes.
With this announcement, Québec will be dedicating in all 5.3 % of its surface area to protected areas. In less than nine months, Québec has almost doubled its surface area devoted to the conservation of biodiversity. " This is truly a first in nature conservation in Québec," added Mr. Boisclair. Protection is being extended to a splendid group of sites that are representative of the biodiversity of the natural province of the Abitibi and Baie-James Lowlands.
More specifically, in this International Year of Freshwater when the focus is on wetlands, the new North Harricana River Aquatic Reserve, which protects one of the main regional water systems, and the new biodiversity reserves of Missisicabi Plain and Ministikawatin Peninsula will help to safeguard immense marshland environments that are of great ecological value.
In a region like Abitibi, the creation of the biodiversity reserves of Lakes Vaudray and Joannès, Lake Sabourin and Muskuuchii Hills will henceforth ensure the safeguarding of old-growth boreal forests located in the industrial zone.
Among the other protected sites, the biodiversity reserves of Boatswain Bay and Lake Sabourin will help guarantee the survival of many threatened species such as the woodland caribou and the rare sandhill crane.
These new protected areas will be exempted from all forms of logging, mining exploration and production, as well as energy production. As for existing rights and privileges, such as fishing, hunting, vacationing and aboriginal activities, they will all be maintained. Within the context of the Natural Heritage Conservation Act, regional and local communities will be called upon to participate in the definition of the vision of conservation for these areas, in the drawing up of conservation plans and eventually, in the management of these territories.
For his part, Mr. François Gendron, Minister of Natural Resources, emphasized "the importance of the contribution made by logging companies, including Norbord and Domtar, which in renouncing some of their rights have made it possible to achieve very significant gains in terms of protected areas. The need to expand protected areas in Québec is now recognized by all, and the cooperation of the various partners involved has evolved accordingly".
Finally, Minister Boisclair wanted to underscore that the work to identify and preserve other territories for Northwestern Québec would continue until this region achieves the high standards associated with protected areas advocated by Québec society.
The information on Québec’s Action plan for protected areas and the conservation plans of protected areas is available on the Web site of the ministère de l’Environnement at the following address:
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