QUEBEC GOVERNMENT NEWS RELEASE: The Plan Nord: The Project of a Generation – Decision-making Hinges on the Protection of the Environment, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Québec, May 9, 2011 –  “The environmental component is at the forefront of concerns linked to the approach adopted under the Plan Nord. Accordingly, the protection of the environment, ecosystems and northern biodiversity will be central to all decision-making,” Québec Premier Jean Charest noted.

Under the Plan Nord, the government is committed to setting aside 50% of the northern territory for purposes other than industrial ones, environmental protection and safeguarding biodiversity. A vast network of protected areas that accounts for 12% of the area of the territory that the Plan Nord covers will be created by 2015.

“We have adopted an unprecedented approach to protect and develop Québec’s outstanding northern heritage. This vast natural territory has extensive, varied fauna and flora along with often untapped wealth. We are proud to guarantee the long-term survival of this heritage and ensure that it is offered to current and future generations,” added Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Pierre Arcand.

The section devoted to the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity in the 2011-2016 action plan under the Plan Nord makes provision for measures that broaden environmental protection initiatives, such as the establishment of provincial parks, aquatic reserves and planned biodiversity reserves, the development of environmental and ecological knowledge pertaining to the territory covered, and the dissemination of the Atlas sur la biodiversité du Québec nordique.

The delineation of the territory to be withdrawn from industrial activities, based on consultation and partnership, will take into account the concerns voiced by Aboriginal, regional and local communities. The principles underpinning the implementation of the government’s commitment are intended to enable current generations to benefit from sustainable development, ensure that future generations are also able to do so, and preserve the quality and diversity of natural resources.