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:
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.
In order to make substantial headway in the short term, the minister also established initial markers for environmental protection and conservation of Northern biodiversity:
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.
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.
- 30 -