Plan Nord

Plan Nord

In August of 2011, the Quebec government said it plans “to dedicate 50% of the territory of the Plan Nord to protecting the environment, safeguarding biodiversity and developing the natural heritage, as well as to various types of development that do not rely on industrial activities.” And, they committed to a public comment period to get feedback.

In case you’re unfamiliar with northern Quebec….that’s A LOT OF LAND!  Here’s a map of what that looks like:

A few quick facts about Quebec’s North

* Located above the 49th parallel, the total area of the Plan Nord is 1,200,000 sq km, which represents 72% of the province;

* 26% of the land is already in dedicated to industry, forestry, mining exploration and energy, mainly hydro-electric;

* 9.15 % of the north is already protected through various designations;

* 4 aboriginal nations live there: the Crees, the Inuit, the Naskapi and the Innu;

* The north is entirely covered in Boreal Zone, which includes the forest blanket, the Taiga and the Tundra areas;

* Quebec Boreal forest blanket represents a quarter of Canada’s remaining boreal ecosystem and covers half a million km2;

* The Boreal Zone are globally important because of their unique ecosystem traits and their role in storing carbon; and,

* Areas North of the 49th parallel have world-class tourism potential for development.

The Plan Nord is also, a sustainable development plan, as the Quebec government is not only committed to protect 50% of the land; it is also working on finding a balance with economic development base on natural resource exploitation.

At the moment:

* Nearly 160,000 mineral explorations permits had been issued (see map above);

* Over 30 hydroelectric projects were either operational of in construction (see map link on sidebar); and,

* 220,000 km2 of forested areas are allocated for forest management and wood harvesting (see map link on sidebar).

The Quebec government and industries are planning to invest millions of dollars in new roads to facilitate industrial development, which will increase fragmentation of one of the last intact northern ecosystems. But, groups and citizens have achieved to get a commitment to protect at least half of the land and are sticking to find a sustainable balance.

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