Biodiversity Strategy I Legislation and Incentives
I Administration and Management
timeline of biodiversity conservation in Quebec
In 1992, the Quebec government
formally endorsed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which
originated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. At the same time,
Quebec began to draft a provincial strategy to implement the objectives
of the CBD.
In 1996, Quebec became
the first province to table a provincial biodiversity strategy.
The Quebec Biodiversity Action Plan documents the actual courses
of action to be carried out by the government in the subsequent
four years to address the objectives of the Quebec Biodiversity
of the Quebec Biodiversity Strategy
The focus of the Quebec Biodiversity
Strategy is on the conservation of living species and their habitats
within Quebec and also on the sustainable use of all living resources.
The QBS is actually made up of two documents, the Implementation
Strategy and the Action Plan.
The Implementation Strategy
contextualizes the QBD: it presents a brief portrait of Quebec's biodiversity,
why it is of value to citizens of Quebec and the current status of conservation
and use of Quebec's living resources. The Implementation Strategy then
presents objectives, aims and measures that the government sees as necessary
to safeguard the biological diversity of Quebec.
Plan provides the details of how Quebec intends to address its goals
over the next four years. It describes over 400 actions to be carried
out by the provincial government in order to address the measures described
in the Implementation Strategy.
implementation strategy 1996, Quebec
Biodiversity Action Plan 1996)
The entire Quebec Biodiversity
Strategy is available online at this site.
is the Strategy organized?
The Strategy is divided
into 12 categories, or sectors, that are listed below. For each
sector, there are a number of measures that need to be carried
out or met. In order to meet these measures, the necessary actions
are described. The actions touch on many different kinds of efforts
from increased research, to improving industrial processes, to
making information available to the public, to incorporating traditional
knowledge of First Nation peoples into conservation decision-making.
What are the 12 categories
addressed in the Quebec Biodiversity Strategy?
- Implementation Approach
- Conserved Natural
- Wildlife Resources
- Forest Resources
- Agricultural resources
- Mineral Resources
- Energy Resources
- Northern Resources
- Environmental Emergency
Biodiversity Strategy Website)
To better understand
the organization of the Strategy, let's look at an example taken
from the Forest Resources sector of the QBS…
Example of the relationship
between aims, measures and actions in the QBS.
Expand our knowledge regarding ecosystems and species
Encourage research into ecosystems in protected areas
- 98. Determine the possibility of using currently protected
forests as control units in forestry research.
- 99. Identify research priorities for parks by allowing them
to serve as yardsticks.
- 100. Identify which measures are likely to affect ecosystems.
Assess Quebec's existing system of protected areas in terms of forestry
- 101. Establish a suitable analysis framework and identify
- 102. Analyze forest ecosystem diversity within and outside
- 103. Develop methodology enabling parks to serve as yardsticks
for measuring changes in natural ecological processes.
1.3 Identify and expand our knowledge of exceptional forests
- 104. Create a task force to begin work in this area.
- 105. Identify rare or fragile ecosystems in parks or ecological
reserves and grant them additional protection.
- 107. Define, determine identification criteria, examine ways
to preserve, and develop a technique for mapping outstanding
Most aspects of human activities,
including economic and recreational activities, have either a direct
or indirect effect on biological diversity. Therefore the QBS relies
on the support of many different ministries in order to be effective.
- Ministère des Affaires municipales
- Ministère de l'Agriculture,
des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation
- Ministère de l'Education
- Ministère de l'Environnement
et de la Faune
- Ministère de l'Industrie,
du Commerce, de la Science et de la Technologie
des Relations internationales
- Ministère des
- Ministère de
la Santé et des Services sociaux
- Ministère des
- Comité interministeriel
sur l'éducation relative à l'Environnement
- also Hydro-Quebec
et la fondation de la faune du Quebec also joined
with federal conservation efforts
efforts complement Canada's efforts in many ways. For example,
the St. Lawrence Action Plan is a project that relies on the joint
involvement of Environment Canada and the Quebec Ministry of Environment
and Wildlife. The St. Lawrence Action Plan is a major effort for
the protection and conservation of the St. Lawrence River and
its watershed. The aims of the plan included reduction of the
contaminants entering the river, the protection of biodiversity
of the river and its watershed, and the involvement of riverside
communities in these efforts.
The maintenance of biodiversity
has always been an important part of the plan through the protection
and restoration of wildlife habitats and through development of recovery
plans for threatened species, such as the beluga whale.
Action Plan Website)
also cooperated with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the
local, national and international level. Projects undertaken with
NGOs include education and information initiatives. For example, the
Union quebecoise pour la conservation de la nature (UQCN), in partnership
with many organizations including the Quebec government, has established
the Ecoroute website designed
as a resource and information source on the Quebec environment and
As well, the Quebec government
has supported the initiatives of NGOs to design and implement conservation
programs. Two notable examples are the Endangered
Spaces campaign and the Natural Heritage Data Center. The Endangered
discussed in greater detail in 3.1 of the Species vs Landscapes chapter,
was launched by WWF Canada to conserve biological diversity by protecting
a network of representative natural areas in Canada. The campaign
was formally endorsed by all provinces and territories of Canada by
1992. The Natural Heritage Data Center was created by the Quebec Ministry
of Environment and Wildlife
in 1988, representing Quebec's contribution to the Natural Heritage
Program and Conservation Data Center Network established by the international
conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy. The purpose of
these data centers is to collect and make available information about
species at risk in a province or state.
and incentives that support biodiversity protection
The government can
ensure that biodiversity is protected by enacting legislation
and regulations. There are four major laws that promote conservation
of species while other laws are geared towards general environmental
protection. The exact text of laws and regulations can be found
at Les Publications du Québec website.
The Parks Act, which was
enacted in 1978, provides the legislative background for the establishment
(and abolition) of parks (conservation or recreational) in Quebec.
This law forbids hunting and resource extraction in provincial parks,
regulates the selling or exchange of a park and gives the Quebec government
the authority to establish regulations for the use of each park.
Ecological Reserves Act
The Ecological Reserves Act,
enacted in 1974, addresses the establishment of ecological reserves.
Reserves are established to: · Conserve habitats in their natural state
· Conserve areas for scientific research and education · Protect vulnerable
or endangered species. The Act includes details about the establishment
of a reserve, acquisition details, restricted activities within the
reserve, access rights, inspections.
Act respecting threatened
or vulnerable species
The Act respecting threatened
or vulnerable species was enacted in 1989 and is the provincial law
that offers legal protection to species that are threatened or endangered.
Among other things, this act establishes:
- Procedure to designate
a species as being at risk
- Rights and responsibilities
of the government with regard to species protection, and protection
of their habitat.
In more detail, this Act
provides the means to both designate a species as being at risk and
to legally protect endangered species. These are two very different
Act respecting the conservation
and development of wildlife
The Act respecting the
conservation and development of wildlife establishes (enacted in 1983):
- Responsibilities of the
government with respect to protecting wildlife populations. One important
application is the regulation of fishing and hunting in Quebec.
- Responsibilities of conservation
agents to apply laws relevant to conservation (such as the 3 mentioned
- Responsibilities for the
education of the public about these laws and regulations.
Since 1972, The Act respecting
the Protection of the Environment aims to establish conservation programs,
outline plans to protect and manage the environment and set up emergency
response plans which help prevent any form of contamination or destruction
of the environment.
Publications du Québec Website)
acts promote the protection of the environment
Several other acts,
geared towards regulation of various industrial activities (forestry,
mining, pulp and paper) or environmental components (air, water,
soil) contain provisions for the protection and rehabilitation
of the environment, and, by extension, protection of habitats
and ecosystems that maintain species biodiversity.
land use plan
of Quebec is in the public domain. The principle tool for managing
this land base is through the public land use plan as designated
in the Loi sur l'affectation des terres du domaine publique. According
to this Act, public lands are classified as one of three categories:
- Lands where resource
extraction is excluded
- Lands where resource
extraction is permitted
- Lands where resource
extraction is a priority
The public land use
plan can therefore also set aside public land to be protected
from resource extraction, which includes activities such as logging,
energy resource acquisition and mining. (Zinger,
1998, pers comm.)
Quebec is divided into
96 regional county municipalities (RCMs) and 3 urban communities.
Under the Loi sur l'aménagement et l'urbanisme, each is required to
have their own development plan. These plans make provisions for the
protection of natural areas such as wetlands. In other words, even
at the level of the RCM, lands can still be zoned for conservation
areas, if they haven't been designated as parks, reserves or areas
excluding resource extraction. (Zinger,
1998, pers comm.)
The Quebec government aims
to protect native biodiversity through two approaches: the protection
of habitats and individual species protection.
is a protected area?
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines a protected
An area of land and/or
sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of
biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources,
and managed through legal or other effective means.
This definition includes
many different purposes for which an area may be protected, from wilderness
protection to recreation to resource management. Therefore, in 1994,
the IUCN developed an international system of classifying protected
areas all over the world into one of six distinct categories:
Cat. I: Strict
nature reserve/Wilderness area: protected area managed mainly for
science or wilderness protection.
Cat. II: National
park: protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and
Cat. III: National
monument: protected area managed mainly for conservation of specific
Cat. IV: Habitat/Species
management area: protected area managed mainly for conservation
through management intervention
V: Protected landscape/seascape: protected areas managed mainly
for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation.
Cat. VI: Managed
resource protected area: protected areas managed mainly for the
sustainable use of natural ecosystems.
These categories imply
a gradient of human intervention. While there are few, if any, places
in the world that can still be described as untouched by humans, and
truly natural, a natural system can be considered as a system where
human impact has not surpassed the impact of other indigenous species
and has not affected ecosystem structure. Thus categories
I to III are concerned with the protection of natural areas, categories
IV to VI deal with protected areas experiencing human modification
date, a small percentage of Quebec lands are protected.
Protected areas in
Quebec must have as their primary objective the protection and
maintenance of biodiversity. This means that any activities carried
out on protected areas must not alter the ecological structure
of the protected area. Some of these incompatible activities include
clear-cutting, monoculture forest plantations, mining, energy
exploitation and non-sustainable harvesting. (MEF,
Wildlife Fund estimated that, as of 1998, 4.2% of Quebec is slated
for protection, but only 0.5% is actually legally protected as
natural areas (IUCN categories I to III), covering some 6.5 million
hectares. Another 2.2% of Quebec is classified as protected areas
with human intervention (IUCN categories IV to VI).
It is also interesting
to note that 75% of all protected lands in Quebec are found in
the northern forest biomes, with the remaining 25% divided among
the tundra, taiga and hardwood forest biomes.
report for Quebec 97-98, WWF 1998; Zinger,
1998, pers. comm., MEF
of the 1990 protected land between the five biome types was:
are the categories of protected lands in Quebec?
The province of Quebec
also has its own system of classifying protected areas. Acquisition
or management of protected areas can fall into the hands of the
federal or provincial government, municipalities, non-governmental
organizations, the private sector or the local community provided
that the objectives of protected areas are met.
Protected natural areas
in Quebec fall into 18 categories. The categories encompassing
the most protected area include:
- Wildlife habitats
(36 000 km2)
- Provincial parks
(5 500 km2)
parks (886 km2)
- Ecological reserves
- Salmon rivers (the
shores) (744 km2)
The 1997-1998 provincial
government's Annual Report on protected areas can be found at
Ministry of Environment and Wildlife website.
As well, see the section
on Endangered Spaces Campaign designed by WWF in 3.1 of the Species
vs. Landscapes chapter.
Wildlife habitats serve
to protect the habitat of a target species or group of species. Human
intervention and resource exploitation is permitted in these areas
as long as there are not any detrimental effects to the habitat of
the targeted species and the activities do not violate the primary
objectives of protected areas. Because controlled exploitation is
permitted in these protected areas, most are classified as category
IV areas under the IUCN system.
Wildlife habitats fall
under the Règlement sur les habitats fauniques de la Loi sur la
conservation et la mise en valeur de la faune (L.R.Q., ch. C-61.1).
There are two broad
classes of provincial parks: parks for conservation purposes
and parks for recreation purposes. Parks established for conservation
serve as permanent protection for exceptional natural areas (Miguasha,
Île Bonaventure and Percé Rock). Recreational parks also serve
to protect areas that are representative of Quebec's natural heritage
but also facilitate recreational, nondestructive activities such
as hiking and skiing.
Provincial parks are
regulated by the Loi sur les parcs (L.R.Q., c.P-9) and all forms
of exploitation, use and disruption of this type of protected
area are forbidden, except for sport fishing in some areas. Such
areas are classified as IUCN category II areas.
parks have been designated in Quebec for the purpose of conservation
and recreation. Click
here to see a list and map of the provincial parks.
National parks serve
to protect areas that are representative of large-scale regions
of Canada to encourage appreciation, education and interpretation
of nature and for the enjoyment of future generations.
National parks are
under federal jurisdiction and are regulated by the National Parks
Act (S.R.C., c.N-13). Like provincial parks, no resource use or
extraction is permitted in national parks, giving them an IUCN
category II designation.
To see a list of the
national parks in Quebec, visit the Parks
differ from provincial parks in that their primary goal is to
protect pristine ecosystems or areas of great ecological significance.
An area may be designated
an ecological reserve for one of many reasons: because it is a
fragile, rare or pristine landscape or in order to protect an
assemblage of representative species of an ecosystem or rare and
Regardless of why an
area is designated as an ecological reserve, all reserves represent
areas relatively unimpacted by humans. As such, activities on
reserves are limited to scientific research and some educational
activities. Unlike other areas of special
status in Quebec, recreational activities and resource extraction
are entirely forbidden. As such, these areas are classified under
IUCN category Ia.
fall under the Loi sur les réserves écologiques (L.R.Q., c.R-26.1).
There are currently 57 ecological reserves in Quebec encompassing
over 70 000 hectares (700 km2).
A more detailed description
of ecological reserves, as well as a list of Quebec's reserves
are found on the Quebec MEF website here.
map of the reserves is also available from the Quebec MEF website,
While the rivers themselves
are not regulated, the banks of the rivers are considered as protected
areas. Under the Loi sur les Forêts (L.R.Q., c.F-4.1, art. 28.2),
a 60 m.-wide band on each side of the river is protected from
logging activity in order to protect salmon spawning (breeding)
habitat, which needs to be cold and free of sediment.
Since other resource
exploitation is permitted within this class of protected area
(i.e. hunting), it is classified as an IUCN category VI area.
Quebec also has other
conservation areas that do not get classified as protected areas
because their primary goal is not the protection of biodiversity
or wildlife. These may include In-situ areas such as hunting camps
and zones of controlled exploitation (ZECs) or ex-situ institutions
such as zoos and botanical gardens. However, we have focused this
portion of the text primarily on natural areas.
A significant proportion
of both vascular and vertebrate species are at risk
The 374 plant species susceptible
to be designated as threatened or vulnerable make up almost 20%
of all vascular plant species in Quebec. 11% (77 species) of
all vertebrates are also considered to be at risk. Many of these either
live in aquatic habitats or originate in the
St. Lawrence watershed.
More information on the
distribution of species at risk can be found in the Species
at Risk section of the website.