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THE BAPE REPORT IS NOW PUBLIC

Québec, July 17th 2008 At the request of Line Beauchamp, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) is today making public its examination and public hearing report on the Projets de réserves de biodiversité du lac des Quinze, du lac Opasatica, de la forêt Piché-Lemoine et du réservoir Decelles en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. This examination and public hearing mandate began on March 8th 2007. The commission in charge of examining the project was chaired by Mr. John Haemmerli.

The commission concludes that the Government of Québec should grant the four territories in question a permanent protection status as biodiversity reserves, but should re-evaluate certain elements of the territories.

In the case of the Lac des Quinze biodiversity reserve project, the possibility of extending the reserve northwest of Lac des Guêpes should be re-evaluated to protect a greater area of the forest community developed in this protected area. In the opinion of the commission, this reserve could also include the islands of Lac des Quinze near Longue point and Fish Creek point, given their cultural, historical and symbolic value.

As for the Lac Opasatica biodiversity reserve project, the commission feels that two adjacent sectors should also be protected: on the one hand, the Lac Bull Rock sector, considering its importance for the Aboriginal community of Timiskaming, the biophysiscal elements of interest and the possibility of greater connectivity with a protected area in Ontario and, on the other hand, the public territory located to the northeast of Lac Opasatica, given its importance for lakeshore residents, its accessibility, the wildlife and landscape elements that characterize it, and the possibilities of connecting up with the Collines Kekeko sector. However, in the opinion of the commission, the maintaining of Lac Opasatica inside the biodiversity reserve should be decided in consultation with municipal authorities and local stakeholders.

Turning to the Forêt Piché-Lemoine biodiversity reserve project, the possibility of protecting the portion of an esker of the Harricana moraine to the east of the reserve should be re-evaluated, given its importance in the preservation of the quality of the water tables and of the ecological integrity of the Lac Lemoine watershed. The inclusion of Lac Lemoine and its shores in the biodiversity reserve should, however, be decided in consultation with municipal authorities and local stakeholders.

As for the advisability of protecting Rivière Piché and its watershed, the commission has ascertained that the constraints associated with the tenure of the lands and the development of the territory prevent the inclusion of the river and its watershed in the Forêt Piché-Lemoine biodiversity reserve project. Nevertheless, a search for solutions should be undertaken, in collaboration with municipal authorities and users, to reduce the impacts of mining and recreational activities on this ecosystem.

Finally, in the case of the planned Réservoir Decelles biodiverity reserve, the  commission believes that it would be appropriate to increase the surface area in such a way as to completely surround the Dunes-de-la-Moraine-d’Harricana ecological reserve.

A few more general observations concerning the biodiversity reserve creation and public consultation process emerged during the examination of these four projects. In the opinion of the commission, the overall planning of the protected area network requires that the corridors and contact zones intended to ensure links between these areas be an integral part of the setting up of this network, where necessary. In addition, the socioeconomic assessment of each territory of interest and the sectors considered during the selection of such territories should be better documented and made public at the same time as the provisional conservation plan of the planned biodiversity reserves. Similarly, it would be appropriate to initiate an on-going consultation process at the beginning of the phase during which territories of interest are selected. This consultation would involve the partners of the Stratégie québécoise sur les aires protégées (Québec strategy on protected areas) and the stakeholders concerned.

Finally, the Government of Québec should quickly rule on the management terms and conditions, the activity regime and the resources required to ensure the management of each of the four biodiversity reserves. The government should also define with the Aboriginal communities in question terms and conditions to facilitate their participation in these projects.

AVAILABILITY OF THE REPORT

The examination and public hearing report on the Projets de réserves de biodiversité du lac des Quinze, du lac Opasatica, de la forêt Piché-Lemoine et du réservoir Decelles en Abitibi-Témiscamingue is now available. You can consult it at the BAPE documentation centres, at the consultation centres opened in the community as well as on the website of the BAPE at the following address: www.bape.gouv.qc.ca. You can also request the report at the office of the BAPE, either by sending an e-mail to communication@bape.gouv.qc.ca, or by dialing 418 643-7447 or toll-free 1 800-463-4732.

The public sessions have been held in April and May 2007 in Val-d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda, Angliers, Lac-Simon and Winneway. The commission received 24 briefs and some oral presentations from individuals, groups and municipalities interested in this project.

 

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Source:    Louise Bourdages
               Communications Advisor
               418 643-7447 or 1 800 463-4732, extension 532




 
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