MRC PONTIAC – The Québec government announced August 17 that $40.9 million will be invested to ensure efficient management of protected areas; to create new biodiversity reserves; and increase the size of some existing ones. Notably, for the Pontiac, an 847-km2 biodiversity reserve on the Noire and Coulonge rivers will be created and the Mont O’Brien Biodiversity Reserve will increase in size.
Projected biodiversity reserve status, in most cases, allows for recreational activities including camping, hiking, fishing and hunting while excluding industrial activities like forestry and mining. The government announcement brings the total percentage of protected areas to 10.59 % of the Outaouais’ total area; the provincial goal is to protect 17%.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is a nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of public land and water, and ensuring parks and other protected areas are managed to protect the nature within them. CPAWS Ottawa Valley in a press release congratulated the government for its commitment to improving the provincial network of protected areas. “The Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge watersheds are among the last wild and intact watersheds anywhere in southern Canada. An interconnected network of protected areas centered around these watersheds will help the local economy by preserving remarkable areas that can attract visitors and investors,” said John McDonnell, director of CPAWS Ottawa Valley.
“We are very pleased about significant areas being officially added to the Mont O’Brien Biodiversity Reserve, making it a more of an ecologically viable unit, with some rare species, such as the coral-root orchid. We’re also relieved to finally see the official designation of a projected biodiversity reserve for the Noire and Coulonge rivers,” commented Paula Armstrong, biologist and president of the Mont O’Brien Association.
“Protected areas are needed for biodiversity protection in the face of climate change and landscape fragmentation,” she explained, adding that the areas also give people the opportunity to become better acquainted with native flora and fauna through recreational activities.