17,800 km2 in new protected areas
THE GOVERNMENT PURSUES ITS PLAN TO PROTECT QUÉBEC’S TERRITORY
Québec, October 7, 2008 – Québec Premier Jean Charest, accompanied by the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Line Beauchamp, announced today that Québec will protect an additional 17,800 km2 of natural environments, equal to 1.07 % of its total territory. These new protected areas are essentially located north of the 49th parallel. Six entirely new protected territories have been created, and five adjustments including three enlargements have been made to the boundaries of previously protected areas. The Premier and the Minister announced this decision during a press conference in the presence of President Maggie Emudluk of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) and President Pita Aatami of the Makivik Corporation.
“In making this announcement, I want to stress how particularly pleased I am that we have succeeded in protecting one of our crown jewels and one of the largest and most important rivers in Québec, the George. This protection has symbolic value for the local population. As part of the Northern Plan that the government is currently preparing, this also represents concrete step in the sustainable development of Québec’s North,” Premier Charest declared.
New protected areas in the North
The territory reserved for the Rivière-George protected zone and the adjacent Monts-Pyramides National Park together cover more than 9,200 km2 in area. This is the equivalent of a two-kilometre wide green corridor running from Blanc-Sablon, Québec to Victoria, British Columbia, or put differently, some 19 times the area of the Island of Montreal. The government has protected the entire 350-kilometre length of this majestic river, starting at its junction with the Rivière du Pas (its principal affluent). This decision creates the largest protected river in Québec. The renown of the George is well acknowledged in regard to its fauna, particularly Atlantic Salmon, Artic Char and Caribou. But this is also an immense ancestral and cultural heritage that is now being preserved.
The protected Rivière-George area also provides sanctuary to one of the largest herds of Caribou in Arctic Québec, counting some 385,000 head in all. The protected territory includes, moreover, the archaeologically significant Lake de la Hutte Sauvage that was a regional convergence site where Innu, Naskapi and Inuit peoples gathered for the summer Caribou hunt.
The Monts-Pyramides National Park reserve is located some 90 kilometres to the south of the Northern village of Kangiqsualujjuaq. Bordering the George River, the Pyramid Mountains offer significant shoreline relics, vestiges of the last ice age.
At approximately 60 kilometres to the northwest of the Northern village of Kuujjuaq, the Baie-aux-Feuilles National Park reserve borders on one of the largest river estuary systems in Québec’s North that is characterized by exceptional tides of as much as 17 metres. This is also the only place in Québec that is home to Muskox.
The Collines-Ondulées National Park reserve is located some 80 kilometres north of Schefferville. It bears eloquent witness to the geological formation of the Labrador Trench. This territory is formed of lakes and rivers that lie between parallel folds of lava and sedimentary rock. The secondary mountain ranges here offer a transition area for Boreal and Northern animal and plant species.
“Québec’s northland is a vast, rich and diversified territory. Working with aboriginal communities, the Government of Québec has today made a significant and decisive move to preserve its biodiversity while respecting native cultures and traditions,” underlined Premier Charest.
Moreover, the government has also created an initial series of biological sanctuaries to protect old growth forests, thus contributing to the achievement of our overall objective of protecting a full eight percent of the territory. To all the above protected areas can now also be added the proposed Mont-Sainte-Marie and Buttes-du-Lac-Montjoie proposed northern biodiversity reserves in the Mont-Laurier region. Finally, the government will modify the boundaries of a number of territories including the proposed Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish biodiversity reserve that will be enlarged for the purpose of creating a national park, the proposed North Shore Lac Pasteur biodiversity reserve whose territory will be enlarged to protect a large part of Lake Walker and its western shores, as well as the proposed Îles-du-Kiamika biodiversity reserve that will include a land portion on the northern shore of the Kiamika reservoir.
“The Government of Québec has now brought the area of protected areas to 7.07% of our land. In less than five months, more than 36,000 km2 have been added to the Québec network of protected areas,” stated Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Ms. Line Beauchamp.
The list of new territories is appended and may also be consulted on the Internet site of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs.
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