Québec announces its intention to create a vast protected area 21 times the size of the Island of Montréal
|Baie-Comeau, November 28, 2017. – The extensive Caribous-Forestiers-de-Manouane-Manicouagan protected area will be created on the Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean territories. The announcement was made today by the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Isabelle Melançon, in the presence of various local partners, including representatives from the Innu nations. From a sustainable development perspective, the creation of this protected area, where the highest densities of woodland caribou are observed in Québec, will ensure the protection of a high-quality habitat for this species, which has been designated as vulnerable since 2005.
The vast protected area will stand out by its size and will meet the specific needs of caribou in order to ensure their survival. The creation of this biodiversity reserve will cover an area specific to the woodland caribou of approximately 10,200 km2, which is 21 times the size of the Island of Montréal, and will add nearly 7,000 km2 to Québec’s network of protected areas.
As a result, the proportion of Québec’s protected land and freshwater territory will reach 11.1% (the target is 17%) and the proportion of protected territory covered by the Plan Nord will climb to 12.4% (with a target of 20% by 2020), taking into account the planned biodiversity reserve projects that have been previously announced.
One third of the territory that will comprise the large protected area is already legally protected (three planned biodiversity reserves and several biological refuges) and the remaining two thirds are protected administratively by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) and the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) with respect to forest and mining activities. In addition to protecting areas that are extensively used by the woodland caribou, the boundaries that were chosen are the best of several options in terms of minimizing the impact on the forestry sectors of both regions concerned.
Today’s announcement also enables the Québec government to address one of the main actions contained in its Action Plan for woodland caribou habitat management, launched in April 2016 by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. Creating protected areas is one of the three major measures under the 2013-2023 Recovery Plan for the Woodland Caribou in Québec, which led to the April 2016 Action Plan – a measure that all regional and national environmental groups as well as Aboriginal communities were demanding. Since the woodland caribou is considered an umbrella species, creating such a protected area is particularly important since protecting their habitat also protects many species associated with the boreal forest.
“Each day, the planet loses species due to habitat degradation, climate change, the arrival of invasive species, and pollution. This phenomenon could continue to accelerate. Therefore, creating protected areas to preserve ecosystems that are essential for a multitude of species, but especially for those that are endangered, helps fight this trend. It also ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy all of the biological diversity that makes Québec and our regions unique havens that we can be proud of. We have the good fortune to live in this vast territory that is the envy of many. Québec is and will continue to be a leader in biodiversity protection, while at the same time building ona long-term vision that takes into account the inseparable nature of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of development activities.”
Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change
“Today's announcement is consistent with the Action Plan for woodland caribou habitat management and is intended to foster concrete action to protect a vulnerable species of our boreal forest. This vast protected area represents one of the plan’s major undertakings which will reconcile the protection of this ecotype with the sustainable management of our forests. I am proud to announce that the large Caribous-Forestiers-de-Manouane-Manicouagan interregional protected area will have no impact on jobs in the forestry sector.”
Luc Blanchette, Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
“The creation of this protected area is yet another step toward achieving our goal of protecting 20% of the territory covered by the Plan Nord by 2020. It is an excellent example of territorial cooperation that enables us to take concrete action today to conserve biodiversity north of the 49th parallel. The area will also help protect the environment as a whole, which is a Plan Nord priority.”
Pierre Moreau, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister responsible for the Plan Nord and Minister responsible for the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region
“The vast Caribous-Forestiers-de-Manouane-Manicouagan interregional protected area will be an excellent example of sustainable development in the Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions. Thanks to the collaboration of the Pessamit Innu community and the elected officials of both regions concerned, we will be able to protect a territory that is significant both in terms of biodiversity and culture, while minimizing as much as possible the negative impacts on the region’s economy, particularly in the forestry sector.”
Pierre Arcand, Minister responsible for Government Administration and Ongoing Program Review, Chair of the Treasury board and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region
“The Pessamit Innu Council welcomes today’s announcement. Although there is still room for improvement on the government’s consultation process, our community now wishes to participate more actively in the steps that will lead to granting permanent protected area status to the planned protected area, which must take into consideration the territorial planning strategies desired by the community. The Council also wants to be a key player in managing the future protected area by taking into account the role that potential stewards of the land could play – an approach that is supported by all communities of the Innu nation. However, let’s make sure that other concrete actions will be taken in the near future so that the caribou populations throughout Nitassinan, including the territory’s southern portion, will become self-sufficient. Our actions must be guided by all initiatives aimed at preserving the relationship between Innu and caribou, and that means we must all exercise caution in the coming phases.”
René Simon, Pessamit Chief
- The large Caribous-Forestiers-de-Manouane-Manicouagan protected area will protect sectors of major importance for woodland caribou. Recent inventories have confirmed the use of the territory by woodland caribou, and setting boundaries on the protected area makes it possible to include high-quality habitats for the species.
- Creating a representative network of protected areas and applying protective measures for endangered or vulnerable species are recognized components of sustainable forest management in Québec and Canada.
- The Aboriginal nations in the affected territories were consulted at each step involved in creating the protected area.
- The protected area will have no impact on supply guarantees or auctions. In fact, forestry opportunities in the area will be compensated by the new territorial limit of attributable forests.
For a list of protected areas in Québec, go to http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/biodiversite/aires_protegees/registre.
To consult the Action Plan for woodland caribou habitat management: http://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/publications/faune/napperon-caribou-forestier-2016.pdf.
To read the press release issued for the launch of the Action Plan for woodland caribou habitat management: http://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/foret-boreale-plan-action-conservation-habitat-caribou/.
Office of the Minister of Sustainable
Development, the Environment and the
Fight against Climate Change
Tel.: 418 521‑3911
Office of the Minister of Forests,
Wildlife and Parks
Tel.: 418 643-7295
Office of the Minister responsible for the Plan Nord
Tel.: 418 643-7295
Office of the Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord
Tel.: 418 643-5926
Ministère du Développement durable,
de l’Environnement et de la Lutte
contre les changements climatiques
Tel.: 418 521-3991