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Press Release

The Plan Nord


Montréal, February 5, 2012. – Québec Premier Jean Charest and Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Pierre Arcand today unveiled the guidelines that are to frame the government’s commitment to dedicate 50% of the area of the Plan Nord territory to environmental protection, safeguarding biodiversity, strengthening the natural heritage and non-industrial development by 2035.

“No other government in the world has protected an area so vast in such a short span of time. Our unique northern heritage is an important symbol of the identity of all Québécois. We are proud of this heritage, and we want to make the Plan Nord a sustainable development and environmental protection benchmark worldwide,” declared the premier.

The new guidelines for attaining the objective of protecting 50% of the territory of the Plan Nord by 2035 are as follows:

Create Protected Areas on 20% of the Territory of the Plan Nord by 2020
This will enable Québec to reach the international target set in Nagoya, which consists of giving over 17% of the land to conservation by 2020. The 20% target for the territory of the Plan Nord will include 12% of the boreal forest blanket that will be set aside for the creation of protected areas. These areas will adhere to the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as is currently the case for the entire Québec network. Québec is one of only two states in the world to set up a protected area register that fully complies with the global IUCN criteria.

“In reaching the Nagoya target, Québec will rise to the level of commitment to conservation that has been determined by the world’s most authoritative scientists,” added Minister Arcand.

Develop Ecological and Environmental Knowledge
Seven pilot projects will be used to experiment with new modes of conservation and improve our ecological and environmental knowledge of the land. The pilot projects will enable a variety of conservation practices to be assessed by 2020, thus ensuring the sustainable protection of the environment and the territory.

Initiate Ecological Planning by 2013
Ecological planning steps, in conjunction with other forms of land planning, will help us to identify areas of interest and to adopt medium- and long-term strategic conservation guidelines and objectives that will include sustaining and developing the natural heritage for non-industrial purposes on the territory of the Plan Nord.

Propose an Appropriate Legal Framework
A draft bill aimed at the conservation of the natural heritage and the sustainable development of the territory of the Plan Nord will be tabled in the National Assembly.

Develop an Implementation Strategy
A strategy for implementing the government’s commitment will be set out, covering the years 2012 to 2020. This strategy will detail how the implementation of the commitments will take place by providing protected area creation targets, pilot project guidelines, the participation framework for consulting with the territory’s stakeholders and aboriginal communities and inter-ministerial dialogue mechanisms for creating protected areas.

Ensure the Ways and Means of Account Rendering
A procedure for rendering accounts will be defined to provide an opportunity to review the implementation strategy at 10-year intervals. This means that an accounting of our accomplishments will take place in 2020 and 2030, and a new public consultation held in each of those years will revisit protection targets, look at the ways and means that are employed for conservation and assess the results of completed experimental endeavours.

“The Québec North is one of the last immense tracts of pristine natural space on Earth, and we are going to protect 50% of this vast expanse, which is some 600,000 km2 in area. Clearly, we will take the time needed to get it right. Ensuring sustainable development and optimal environmental protection requires proper planning. The guidelines will come into effect gradually, to enable us to adapt as environmental and ecological knowledge evolves,” concluded the minister.

The government guidelines and the synthesis report on the public consultation are available online at the following Web site: http://www.protegerlenord.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/.

The Plan Nord
The Plan Nord, unveiled last May 9th, is one of the biggest sustainable development projects in the history of Québec. It will take 25 years to be fully implemented and entail investments of more than 80 billion dollars over the same length of time. The Plan Nord incorporates energy, mining, forestry, bio-food, tourism, wildlife and transportation development, as well as the protection of the environment and the conservation of biodiversity. It will favour development that benefits directly involved communities as well as all of Québec, while respecting cultures and identities.


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Hugo D’Amours
Press Officer
Cabinet of the Premier

Sarah Shirley
Press Officer
Cabinet of the Minister of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks418-521-3911


Media Relations
Ministère du Développement durable,
de l’Environnement et des Parcs418-521-3991



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