Quebec lags on biodiversity protection

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Deborah Powell


Deborah Powell

On January 26, Nature Quebec and CPAWS Quebec released the first assessment of the provincial government’s actions to protect biodiversity. The report is titled “Nagoya+”, in reference to the commitments, known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, made by the international community in Japan in 2010. The document examines Quebec’s progress and offers recommendations to ensure the 2020
objectives will be met.
The CPAWS/Nature Quebec analysis shows that if current trends continue, none of the Aichi targets will be reached in Quebec. For example, Target 11 calls for a representative system of protected areas covering 17% of land and freshwater areas, and 10% of coastal and marine areas. In Quebec, the analysis finds that progress is minimal in terms of coverage since 2010; many ecosystems are under-represented, and regional proposals are blocked. The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change’s (MDDELCC) website reports a total
of 9.16% of Quebec’s
territory is covered by a protected status.
“Quebec has done great work, going from virtually no protected areas in the early 2000s to a little over 9% today. But even if one is on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there!” said John McDonnell, Executive Director of CPAWS Ottawa Valley Chapter. “There is still a lot of work to be done, especially in southern Quebec, which is richest in biodiversity, where increasing development pressures and climate change are a threat.
There are some steps the government could take right away in this region. The Dumoine – there is consensus around the current boundaries for the Réserve aquatique, yet it only has interim status – they should grant full protection right now. The Noire and Coulonge rivers have been the subject of various proposals for
protection for years, and still nothing concrete has been done. There needs to be a plan and some leadership before it’s too late,” he concluded.
“We haven’t heard anything about protected areas from the ministry since the BAPE (Bureau d’audience publique) hearings in January 2013 that were for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region
but also included the Dumoine. We have no news of when the BAPE will look at Outaouais proposals,” said Régent Dugas, MRC Pontiac’s Director of Territory. “The MRC’s position remains the same as expressed in the memoir passed by the Mayors’ Council in 2012.”
The MRC memoir includes a call for protected areas on the Noire and Coulonge rivers and a national park for the Dumoine. The conclusion reads: “In general, the MRC Pontiac supports the initiative of the MDDEP (now the MDDELCC) to increase protected areas to the target of 12% … However, government programs need to be put in place to maintain the infrastructure in these
sectors in order to support recreotourism …”