Protected Areas in Québec: A Lifelong Heritage
TAKING ACTION TO MEET ITS COMMITMENTS: QUÉBEC ADDS OVER 1% OF ITS TERRITORY TO ROSTER OF PROTECTED AREAS
Québec City, May 14, 2008—Minister of Sustainable
Development, Environment and Parks Line Beauchamp and Minister of Natural
Resources and Wildlife Claude Béchard today announced the creation of 23 new
protected areas. This substantial increase in protected areas totals
18,220.5 km2, representing more than 1% of the province of Québec.
Protection of exceptional lands
Among the territories announced today, 20 are designated as “proposed biodiversity reserve” and 2 as “proposed aquatic reserve.” These 22 territories cover 9,470.5 km2 and encompass 4 natural provinces and 9 administrative regions of Québec: Nord-du-Québec, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Côte-Nord, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Outaouais, Laurentides, Lanaudière, Mauricie and Capitale-Nationale. Added to these newly protected areas is the 8,750 km2 of the Lac-Burton, Rivière Roggan-and Pointe-Louis-XIV area, which could be part of the process to create a national northern park. This territory, located at the juncture of James Bay and Hudson Bay, has weather, plant and wildlife features unique at this latitude.
The creation of these new protected areas enables Québec to protect natural areas that have exceptional biodiversity. The proposed Rivière-Dumoine aquatic reserve, for example, covers 1,500 km2 and protects one of the last natural rivers in southern Québec. It has numerous rapids over its 140 km north-south course, as well as La Grande Chute, a spectacular waterfall nearly 40 metres high, and impressive cliffs up to 170 metres in height. Its protected shoreline is also rich with an impressive variety of maple, white pine, black spruce and cedar.
Another exceptional natural site that is now protected is the proposed Montagnes-Blanches biodiversity reserve north of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, which will protect an area of 959 km2. It is home to one of the last great pristine forests and part of the range of the woodland caribou, today deemed a vulnerable species.
Further north in the James Bay region, Québec is creating the proposed Paakumshumwaau-Maatuskaau biodiversity reserve. It covers 4,259 km2 and protects an area of tremendous ecological and cultural value, particularly for the Cree community of Wemindji. An innovative, cooperative relationship between the community of Wemindji and McGill University is the reason behind this territory being given proposed biodiversity status. The watersheds that the reserve protects are almost all in a natural state and archeological excavations have revealed evidence of ongoing occupation of the territory over the last 3,500 years.
In the Québec City area, a part of the Montmorency forest will also become a protected area in order to safeguard sectors of the Rivière Noire and Rivière Montmorency. With the rector of Université Laval, Denis Brière, in attendance, the Minister underscored the university’s contribution to the network of protected areas with this territory’s designation as a proposed biodiversity reserve.
Sustained local support
These results were made possible through the exemplary effort and cooperation of representatives of some 20 native communities, the Regional Conference of Elected Officers, the 16 RCMs concerned, as well as representatives from the forest industry, wildlife users and nature conservation organizations, for the benefit of all communities.
Since 2005, a highly structured consultation procedure, led by the MDDEP, has been ongoing in collaboration with a number of stakeholders who participated in identifying the territories to be protected. Public hearings will also be held, as outlined in the Natural Heritage Conservation Act, before permanent protection status is attributed to these territories. The creation of these new protected areas is in line with the objectives of the Strategy and Action Plan for Protected Areas and, as such, is part of the government’s sustainable development initiative.
The list of newly protected areas, their location and size is provided in the appendix and on the MDDEP Web site: www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca.
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