Québec creates Canada’s largest provincial park
Montreal -- The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) warmly welcomes the creation of Tursujuq park, announced today by the Québec government.
Globally significant conservation
At 26 000 km2, more than four times the size of Prince Edward Island, Tursujuq is now the largest provincial park in Canada – and among the largest protected areas in the world. Located on the eastern coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik, near the Inuit village of Umiujaq, the park will permanently protect many exceptionnal ecological and cultural features. Of particular note is a very large portion of the Nastapoka River watershed, a culturally significant traditionnal place of gathering for aboriginal families. The river hosts the world's only population of landlocked freshwater harbour seals, the only salmon population on the eastern side of Hudson Bay, and at its mouth, an important sanctuary for endangered beluga whales. According to Patrick Nadeau, Executive Director of CPAWS Québec , "Few opportunities remain for such large-landscape conservation efforts. For us, today's announcement is globally significant."
Years of efforts pay off
Creating a park of this magnitude is not easily achieved. Among other challenges, Hydro-Québec went on the record during public consultations to oppose the protection of the Nastapoka River, fearing the « loss » of a river that could otherwise have produced hydro-electric power. According to Mr. Nadeau, "The final park boundaries are the result of years of efforts by local Inuit communities and the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) and the Cree. It is an example of conservation done right – KRG did its homework, and local populations were consulted extensively."
A step in the right direction for Québec
The creation of Tursujuq park is a positive step in moving Québec towards its protected area targets for the North (above the 49th parallel) : 20 % by 2020, and ultimately 50 % by 2035. However, the province is still playing catch-up on many fronts, including its southern ecosystems and the commercial boreal forest, where barely 5 % is protected. As for marine conservation, it stands at a dismal 1 %. Mr. Nadeau concludes, "We are optimistic that this announcement means that the new government is taking the protected areas file seriously. Today we saw tremendous progress in the north, tomorrow we will need to ensure that no ecosystems in Québec are left behind."
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CPAWS Québec participated in public hearings in Umiujaq and Kuujjuaraapik to support the creation of Tursujuq Park, as well as consultations by DFO on the unique Nastapoka freshwater seals. CPAWS also initiated a campaign whereby over 1,000 Quebecers wrote to former Premier Charest to ask for the protection of the Nastapoka watershed.
Information, interviews and photos of the park:
Marie-Ève Allaire-Hébert Community Coordinator
CPAWS Québec 514 278-7627, ext 221 firstname.lastname@example.org
CPAWS is Canada’s voice for wilderness. Since 1963 we’ve led in creating over two-thirds of Canada’s protected areas. That amounts to about half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory! Our vision is that Canada will protect at least half of our public land and water. As a national charity with 13 chapters, 55,000 supporters and hundreds of volunteers, CPAWS works collaboratively with governments, local communities, industry and indigenous peoples to protect our country’s amazing natural places.