Richard Desjardins writes to the United Nations to denounce the “intellectual fraud” of the Legault government, which he says violates the Convention on Biological Diversity by only protecting northern territories.
• Read also: 17% protected areas … Oh yes?
“At the instigation of its ministry responsible for forests, the Legault government therefore decided: ok for protected areas, but where there are no trees! It is clear, our public forests must remain essentially reservoirs of cubic meters of wood made available to private forestry companies ”, deplores the activist and poet in an open letter published today in The newspaper.
The president of Action boréale and co-signatory of the letter, Henri Jacob, explains: “The government has fundamentally protected areas north of 49e parallel. Over the tens of thousands of km2 announced in December, there is only 0.8% in the south. ”
The problem: it is in the south that the ecosystems are the most fragile and threatened by industry, and it is also in the south that there is more biodiversity. According to Action boréale, Quebec is breaking the convention, because it does not grant protection to each of the ecosystems it shelters. “We want people internationally to realize that Quebec’s protected areas are not representative and that the government is going wild for nothing,” says Mr. Jacob.
In Abitibi, 10 of the 12 projects proposed by the community were rejected, and those that were selected were largely cut off from their territory. “They said to themselves’ Richard Desjardins is fighting for Mount Kanasuta, we are going to give him the top of the mountain”, “he laments.
Another concrete example: in Lanaudière, near Montreal, citizens had proposed to the Ministry of the Environment nearly 700 km2 of forests to be safeguarded. After tough negotiations, their request was reduced to 215 km2. And finally, the Quebec government, without explanation, only protected 54 km2 of the Ouareau forest, which is equivalent to less than 30% of this regional park.
“Logging is at the gates of greater Montreal. People do not realize how close the cuts are, ”said Linda Otis, president of the Kaaikop-Ouareau écocorridor.
She also deplores that the Ministry of the Environment did not want to protect Mount Kaaikop, which houses an outdoor base. “It was only 40 km2, it’s really nothing for the forestry industry, ”she says. Meanwhile, cuts threaten this corridor towards Mont-Tremblant Park.
Not all are of the same opinion. The biologist Alain Branchaud, president of SNAP Quebec, recognizes that there are gaps in what was announced in December by the government, but considers all the same that it is about a “remarkable” progress.
“There are no“ scrap ”protected areas in what has been announced. This is extraordinary progress. And 17% is an interim objective, the 30% target will allow us to fill in the real gaps in the south, ”he emphasizes.
Hard blow for the government: a 30,000 km2 northern protected territories that he announced in December are now being questioned by the Inuit of Nunavik. “We are informing the Government of Quebec that we are currently carrying out consultations throughout Nunavik on the creation of our new government. Consequently, we will not sign any agreement concerning the expansion of the network of protected areas in Nunavik ”, affirms the president of the Makivik Corporation, Charlie Watt.
Adamie Delisle Alaku, vice president of Makivik, does not mince words in interview with The newspaper. “If the Government of Quebec protects these territories, it is because it sees no economic value in them. It would not have protected a sector that interests mining companies in search of nickel or rare earths, and it would not have protected a place where they can build a hydroelectric power station, ”he says.
A TARGET ACHIEVED, BUT CRITICIZED
- In December, the Legault government announced that 17% of Quebec’s land territory would be protected, in time to achieve its international objective.
- Only British Columbia and Quebec have reached this scale in Canada, the other provinces and territories have failed.
- Over the tens of thousands of km2 protected, less than 1% are in the south.