Mathew Jacobson, manager of the Pew Environment Group's International Boreal Conservation Campaign in Quebec, issued the following statement today in reaction to the Quebec government's release of Plan Nord, a sustainable development initiative for the 425,000-square-mile northern boreal region. This undertaking includes a commitment to put half of the area off limits to industrial activity.
“We commend Premier Jean Charest for announcing the largest land conservation policy in history. The Plan Nord covers the northern two thirds of Quebec, an area twice the size of Texas. It seeks to balance conservation with development in a region that is home to some of the world's largest remaining intact landscapes.
“We are pleased that the government has pledged to include ecological planning in its legislation and to protect at least half of the boreal region from industrial activity.
“Quebec's vision of integrating economic development and conservation on such a grand scale is unprecedented, laudable and very complicated. There are elements of the plan that need improvement, and we hope that these challenges can be resolved.
“We look forward to Quebec's implementation of Plan Nord in partnership with aboriginal communities over the next 25 years. In doing so, Quebec will be able to create a new model for sustainable development."
In 2008, Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced that his government would develop a "Plan Nord", a 25-year policy for Quebec's boreal region, which makes up the northern two-thirds of the province. The plan would strictly protect half of the province's boreal territory (more than 212,000 square miles, an area about twice the size of the U.S. national park system); apply sustainable development standards to the rest; and respect existing rights and treaties with the region's aboriginal communities. Legislation to withdraw 50 percent of the land area from industrial development is expected this summer.