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Press Release

Plan Nord

NEW, AMBITIOUS COMMITMENTS AND A PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON PROTECTING 50% OF NORTHERN LANDS

Québec City, August 12, 2011 – Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Pierre Arcand today unveiled a document entitled, A commitment by the Government of Québec to set aside 50% of the Plan Nord territory for environmental protection, safeguarding biodiversity and promoting our natural heritage, as well as for various types of development that do not rely on industrial activities. This document is to be the subject of a public consultation that starts today.

“Protecting the Northern environment, its ecosystems and its biodiversity is central to the Plan Nord. The path we have chosen in order to protect the ecological and natural heritage of Northern Québec is unique. We proudly stand for perpetuating this heritage and for ensuring that the legacy is handed down from today’s generations to those of the future. In terms of area, we will protect some 600,000 km2, which is a huge undertaking! This kind of action to preserve nature sets a major international precedent. For these reasons, I invite all Quebecers to take ownership of this societal project by participating in the public consultation,” the minister stated.

New, Ambitious Commitments

During the launch of the consultation, Minister Arcand announced major new commitments in the Plan Nord framework:

  • Ensuring that by 2020, at least 17% of the territory of the Plan Nord is set-aside for conservation purposes
  • Achieving the overall objective of protecting 50% of the North by 2035

Through these new measures, Québec aims to fulfill, by 2020 and on the territory of the Plan Nord, one of the major commitments made in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 by the 193 countries that are Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity: setting aside 17% of their landmass for conservation purposes.

Concrete Results

In order to make substantial headway in the short term, the minister also established initial markers for environmental protection and conservation of Northern biodiversity:

  • By 2015, complete a network of protected areas on at least 12% of the territory of the Plan Nord.
  • By 2015, complete a network of protected areas covering 12% of the area of the boreal forest blanket. This represents a major step in efforts to protect old-growth forests and the habitat of a threatened species, the woodland caribou.
  • By 2020, reserve at least 5% in additional areas for conservation and non-industrial development of interest.

In order to assess progress towards achieving our ultimate goal by 2035, two important events will be held, one in 2020 and the other in 2030. These will provide opportunities to see how far we have come, identify new targets and set timetables that will permit us to meet the conservation goals defined by the future implementation strategy.

We recall that measures to protect the Northern environment, its ecosystems and its biodiversity will require a preliminary phase, during which scientific knowledge about Northern Québec will be acquired and developed to enable us to make enlightened conservation choices. The North is a vast area; achieving our protection objectives is thus a major challenge. The acquired knowledge will allow us to begin to plan ecologically on this territory.

A Societal Project

The ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs will hold a public consultation to allow this major project to benefit from the support and contribution of all Quebecers and reflect our society’s needs, values, and interests. The consultation will last two months, from August 12 to October 12, 2011, and allow individual citizens’ groups and organizations to share their comments and suggestions about the government’s commitment. There are three ways of participating: answering the online questionnaire on the www.protegerlenord.mddep.gouv.qc.ca web site, attending public hearings or submitting a brief. Public hearings are planned in each of the three regions that are directly concerned by the Plan Nord (Côte-Nord, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Nord-du-Québec), as well as in Québec City and Montréal. The dates of the hearings in each region will be determined shortly and posted on the www.protegerlenord.mddep.gouv.qc.ca web site.
 
This public consultation exercise will enable Plan Nord Partners, Aboriginal communities, environmental and economic stakeholders and representatives from a variety of social milieus, as well as all individual Québecers, to express their opinions about the proposal to dedicate 50% of the Plan Nord territory to protecting the environment, safeguarding biodiversity and promoting our natural heritage, as well as to various types of development that do not rely on industrial activities. This will provide an opportunity for interested individuals and groups to make their contribution to the implementation strategy that will follow passage of a framework law.

Towards a Draft Bill and an Implementation Strategy

Subsequent to the public consultation, Minister Arcand intends to table a draft bill that will provide the framework in which the government’s commitment can be permanently achieved. This new law will take account of all other laws, regulations, conventions and agreements that are currently in force and that govern land organization, environmental protection and the safeguarding of biodiversity north of the 49th parallel. An implementation strategy that will take account of all comments received will be developed within three months of the passage of the law and revised every 10 years.

The Working Paper and procedures for participating in the public consultation are also posted on the following web site: www.protegerlenord.mddep.gouv.qc.ca.

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Sources:

Sarah Shirley
Press Officer
Cabinet of the Minister of
Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks
Tel.: 418 521-3911

 

Information:

Media Relations
Ministère du Développement durable,
de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Tel. 418 521-3991

 

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