Mathew Jacobson, manager of the Pew Environment Group's International Boreal Conservation Campaign in Quebec, issued the following statement today in reaction to Quebec Premier Jean Charest's presentation to the European Parliament entitled, “The Plan Nord: New Model of Sustainable Development.”
“Under Plan Nord, Premier Charest has brought together businesses, scientists, conservationists, aboriginal leaders and local communities in an effort to balance conservation with economic prosperity. He has committed to safeguard at least 50 percent of northern Quebec from all industrial activity and has pledged that ‘economic growth in the North will not undermine protection of the environment.'
“By taking this bold approach, Quebec is demonstrating that integrating economic development with the principles of conservation can work. If implemented correctly and in partnership with aboriginal communities, Plan Nord could allow development of great economic resources—gold and diamonds, iron and timber, and renewable energy—while protecting living ones—caribou, lynx and marten, waterfowl, fresh water, forest and tundra.
“If Quebec stays on course, it will create a new model for other governments that seek to develop natural resources while protecting the environment.”
On May 9, Quebec Premier Jean Charest released "Plan Nord," a 25-year policy for Quebec's boreal region, which makes up the northern two-thirds of the province. The plan would set aside half of the province's boreal territory (more than 212,000 square miles, an area about the size of France) from all industrial activity, apply sustainable development standards to the rest and respect existing rights and treaties with the region's aboriginal communities. Legislation to protect 50 percent of the land area from industrial development is expected this summer.