Saint-Jean-Baptiste, April 4 2023
UNVEILING OF CONSERVATION PLANS FOR THE MONTEREGIAN HILLS : ANOTHER STEP TOWARD THEIR PROTECTION !
« The members of the Coalition des Montérégiennes are very grateful for the financial support of $380,870 obtained through the Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) program to carry out these conservation plans. Our action is aligned with the approach of all conservation organizations that seek to hasten the pace of conservation in southern Quebec and support the objectives set by the government and metropolitan authorities to protect 30% of Quebec’s territory by 2030,” said Pascal Bigras, Executive Director of Nature-Action Québec.
$ 150 MILLION TO IMPLEMENT CONSERVATION PLANS
Using recognized, science-based methods, namely the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, each organization has dedicated itself to a rigorous undertaking to establish a current portrait of the natural environments of each of the hills and to identify actions to ensure that conservation of the Monteregian Hills is taken into account in all aspects of land use. This colossal task, which was carried out over the past year, has confirmed that the hills are subject to significant pressures that jeopardize their ecological integrity.
Everything that must be protected has been identified. The protection objectives focus on forests, wetlands, aquatic and riparian environments, as well as open spaces (grasslands and fallow lands). The strategies and actions stemming from this work have been meticulously assessed, budgeted and endowed with indicators for monitoring purposes. Together, the members of the Coalition have estimated the budget needed to protect, restore and connect each of the Monteregian Hills over the next five years at $150 million. Recall that this amount is part of the global request of $750 million which was submitted by conservation organizations at COP15 in December of 2022.
“Fragmentation of the territory, the proliferation of invasive exotic species, such as the emerald ash borer and the common reed, an increase in human recreational activities, overgrazing of the flora by the white-tailed deer and urban development are all threats that appear at the top of the list and affect the hills’ biodiversity. To respond to these problems, an arsenal of strategies is being put forward and must be supported by financial resources commensurate with the emblem that the Monteregian Hills represent for Quebec’s identity,” explained Eric Malka, Executive Director of Connexion Nature, the organization responsible for coordinating the implementation of the major regional conservation and connectivity plan for the Monteregian Hills.
Controlling invasive species, raising awareness among stakeholders and the general population, monitoring pressure on the natural environments and identifying priority areas for protection, better protection for endangered and vulnerable species, as well as the implementation of policies and regulations that promote conservation, are all part of the priority actions that need to be implemented without delay in order to ensure protection for the hills’ ecosystems and the benefits they offer.
A CONCERTED AND UNIFY APPROACH
The community’s driving forces greatly contributed to the creation of the Monteregian Hills’ conservation plans and brought together hundreds of stakeholders including municipalities, MRCs, sectoral organizations, as well as individuals. It marks the first milestone in a process that will continue for several years and will benefit from periodic revisions and enhancements.
“The unveiling of the conservation plans revives the motivation instilled at COP15 during the Accélération de la conservation dans le sud du Québec (Accelerating Conservation in Southern Quebec) event, which brought together 70 organizations. It was on this occasion that the provincial government committed to making historic investments between now and 2030, through the Nature Plan, to support conservation initiatives in southern Quebec, » said Julien Poisson, Director of Southern Quebec, Nature Conservancy of Canada.
“Conservation on private lands in southern Quebec, where biodiversity is richest and development pressures are greatest, is a key priority for the Quebec government. This is why we announced, at COP15, a historic $650 million for biodiversity conservation. We must protect the areas of interest that are close to our cities and that contribute to the resilience of our living environments,” said Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks and Minister responsible for the Laurentians region.
The implementation of the Coalition’s conservation plans fall within the framework of the Plan d’action pour la reconnaissance et la protection des collines Montérégiennes (Action Plan for Recognition and Protection of the Monteregian Hills) developed by the working group established by the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) in 2022.
“Like the CMM, the Coalition is undertaking significant efforts to find the best ways to ensure recognition for and the protection of these emblematic hills. We thank all the members who participated in the development of these conservation plans, which will certainly contribute to the achievement of our objectives, particularly those of increasing the surface area of the protected metropolitan territory and the conservation of its biodiversity,” said Massimo Iezzoni, Executive Director of the CMM.
It is important to note that the Monteregian conservation plan and the CMM’s action plan are distinct, but mutually advantageous initiatives with a common goal: recognition of and protection for the Monteregian Hills.
REGULATORY MEASURES TO ACCELERATE CONSERVATION
Several actions can be rapidly and successfully undertaken with the support of municipal, governmental (federal and provincial) and private donors. These must include, among other things, ambitious regulatory measures and funding that meets sector needs. The movement needs to gain momentum so that all the actions set out in the conservation plans can be implemented and recognition for the Monteregian Hills as unparalleled centres of biodiversity in southern Quebec can be validated.
“We must quickly change the way we do things, especially in land use planning, in order to make gains by 2030. The Coalition invites municipalities to be proactive, to put nature at the centre of their decisions and to integrate the proposed measures into their land use planning tools. We are happy to work with municipalities to that end, but we need to give cities more tools to protect nature,” said Mélanie Lelièvre, Executive Director of Corridor Appalachien, an organization that works in collaboration with partners of Mounts Brome and Shefford.
THE POPULATION IS INVITED TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT
The Coalition des Montérégiennes invites the population to join the thousands of volunteers who have become involved in their community, whether within conservation organizations, citizens’ groups or among the other allies who are dedicating their time and energy to the cause. Simple gestures can have a huge impact:
- Be eco-responsible: adopt eco-responsible in nature;
- Get involved: join in chores and activities to showcase the territory and offer your time to a conservation organization near you;
- Make a donation to nature: support conservation efforts by making a financial contribution to local organizations;
- Talk about it: be ambassadors for change by raising awareness about the importance of protecting the Monteregian Hills among your network and your elected officials.
The Monteregian Hills are part of the landscape of the metropolitan region, the Montérégie region and Eastern Townships, and beyond. They are a part of the daily lives of more than half of Quebec’s population.
ABOUT THE COALITION DES MONTÉRÉGIENNES
The mission of the Coalition des Montérégiennes is to protect and promote the Monteregian Hills and their connectivity corridors for their intrinsic conservation value, the ecological services they provide and for their role drawing visitors. The territory covered by the Coalition extends over 250 km, includes 33 municipalities, 12 regional administrative entities (11 MRCs and the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal), and covers a total area of 120 000 hectares.
ABOUT THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for the conservation of nature. Through the permanent conservation of vast territories, NCC is addressing the twin crises of rapidly declining biodiversity and climate change. A trusted partner, NCC works alongside individuals, communities, businesses and governments to protect and care for our most significant natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has mobilized the Canadian population to preserve and restore over 15 million hectares. In Quebec, close to 50,000 hectares have been protected. NCC is a registered non-profit organization. With nature, NCC is creating a prosperous world. To learn more visit: natureconservancy.ca.
ABOUT THE PARTENARIAT POUR LES MILIEUX NATURELS PROJECT
The Partenariat pour les milieux naturels project (PPMN) is a grant of more than $53 million dollars over four years from the Government of Quebec to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Through the establishment of financial partnerships with the province’s conservation organizations, it provides support for voluntary conservation initiatives to ensure the protection of natural environments of interest. The PPMN thus aims to develop and consolidate Quebec’s network of protected areas located on private lands.