The Legault government announces a pilot project for a new type of protected area on a large portion of Anticosti Island, but the forest industry is still practicing “clear cuts” there.
“The main concern we have is to see these pilot projects become a Trojan horse to gain acceptance for industrial activities in protected areas. There is currently an attempt to move in this direction, and it is not acceptable, ”thunders the Director General of the Canadian Society for Nature and Parks of Quebec (SNAP-Quebec) in an interview with The newspaper.
During a trip to Anticosti Island in the summer of 2020, Alain Branchaud came across logging sites, which he immortalized. “The images speak, and it’s screaming, these are industrial cuts. Clear cuts. I saw the machinery. It’s not a pretty situation, ”he said.
However, the Legault government has the ambition to completely protect Anticosti Island, to support its candidacy for it to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For now, just under a third of the island is protected.
Yesterday, the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, announced that more than 5,000 km2 of the island will be added to these territories and will be protected under a pilot project.
According to his ministry, “more than half of the area designated for the pilot project will constitute a core of stricter conservation”.
“Elsewhere, only activities aimed at protecting and restoring biodiversity as well as activities compatible with the conservation objective may be authorized there for the benefit of the local community”, one writes.
To achieve this, he created a new category of protected area: the protected area of sustainable use, a little less restrictive and which allows small-scale forestry, explained Minister Charette.
The newspaper asked his cabinet if the logging in progress on Anticosti Island will cease with this protected area status. The answer is less clear than the question.
“The pilot project will serve, among other things, to define this question and this will be done in consultation with the local population,” replied Claude Potvin, the Minister’s director of communications.
Minister Charette explained in a press conference that “from now on, anything that is purely industrial intervention with commercial intensity is prohibited”, but did not define what an industrial logging was.
His colleague at the Ministry of Forests, Pierre Dufour, who openly opposed the creation of protected areas in southern Quebec, was not participating in the activity, for “health reasons,” said Mr. Charette.
The fact remains that, unlike Minister Charette, the Dufour cabinet does not want to say whether or not these territories will be withdrawn from the allowable cut of Quebec, the reservoir of wood available to industrialists.
“The MFFP welcomes the intention. However, the impact analysis and planning have yet to be determined with the various actors involved, ”said Michel Vincent, the communications director of Minister Pierre Dufour.
For biologist Branchaud, the government must stop playing with words. “You cannot practice this kind of industrial forestry with clearcuts in a protected area,” he laments.