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QUEBEC CITY, – Sept. 10 – In a letter delivered today to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, more than 500 scientists and conservation professionals, of whom 325 hold PhDs, from Canada and across the globe called on the provincial government to fulfil its commitment to protect half of the territory north of the 49th parallel, Boreal forest lands that make up one of the richest ecosystems left in the world and represent critical carbon stores.In March of 2009, Premier Charest pledged that 50 percent of the area covered by the Plan Nord would be protected from industrial, mining and energy development, and that all industrial activity in the other portions would be held to sustainable standards. The scientists, called on Premier Charest to ensure that all conservation and development decisions be based on sound scientific data, and offered their expertise in advising Quebec’s government as it embarks on Charest’s ‘Plan Nord.’
“Northern Quebec is home to high-value conservation lands, most notably the vast intact forests and habitats for the woodland caribou and for more than half of the world’s breeding pairs of the American Black Duck,” noted Dr. Marcel Darveau, Head of boreal research and conservation for Ducks Unlimited in Quebec and adjunct professor at Laval University. “Along with housing a diversity of animals and flora beyond our immediate measure, this land offers indispensible ecological benefits to our society, most notably water filtration and carbon storage. We call for the protection of Northern Quebec’s natural capital because, in our world of changing climate, its survival is vital to our own.”
The scientists’ letter calls on the Charest government to include science as an important element of policy decisions. “Our scientific data confirm that Boreal ecosystems already efficiently store more carbon in their trees, soils and peat than any other environment in the world,” said Nigel Roulet, Director of the McGill School of Environment in Montreal and member of the Science Panel of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign. “Development and conservation planning will determine whether this carbon gets released into the atmosphere. When we consider the Plan Nord, it is imperative that decisions made at the political level be based on sound scientific data.”
“The government of Quebec has shown us a vision for protecting this world-class resource,” said Mat Jacobson of the Pew Environment Group. “We believe that Premier Charest’s vision, if properly carried out, will provide a global model for sustainable development.”
“As a next step, we recommend establishing a planning process that engages Aboriginal people and stakeholders, using science, traditional knowledge and local perspectives to conserve ecological and cultural integrity while fostering healthy regional economies,” said Jacobson.
For a list of signatories and to read the scientists’ letter, please see: http://interboreal.org/resources/QuebecScienceLetter-EN.pdf
The Canadian Boreal Initiative brings together First Nations, conservationists, industry, and others to link science, policy and conservation activities in Canada’s Boreal (www.borealcanada.ca).
Ducks Unlimited Canada, a national, private, non-profit organization, conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. DUC has been active in Quebec for more than 30 years (www.ducksquebec.ca).
For further information: Quebec: Julie Seidel, Edelman, (514) 844-6665 x 244, julie.seidel[at]edelman.com Canada Suzanne Fraser, Canadian Boreal Initiative, (613) 552-7277, sfraser[at]borealcanada.ca
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