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Press release

Montreal, April 24, 2019 — Nature is at the heart of our Canadian identity. Protecting natural habitats is an invaluable legacy for future generations. That's why the Government of Canada is committed to doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada's lands and oceans.

Today, at the Nature Champions Summit, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced two major projects to protect natural habitats in Quebec.

Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Montréal Port Authority are working together to designate a group of islands under their jurisdiction as national wildlife areas. The St. Lawrence islands project includes the potential creation of three national wildlife areas between Montréal and Lake Saint-Pierre: the Boucherville islands, the Varennes and Verchères islands and the Lake Saint-Pierre islands. A total of 27 islands are included in the project, and the proposed protected-lands area totals nearly 775 hectares, which will contribute to doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada's lands and oceans. These islands are located in a geographical corridor heavily used by migratory birds and are among the last natural islands in the region. They provide important habitats for species at risk, such as the Least Bittern, Short-eared Owl and Yellow Rail.

In the coming months, the three organizations will continue to work together to begin the process of creating national wildlife areas, which includes consultations with Indigenous communities and local partners—important collaborators whose contribution will help with the achievement of this project's conservation objectives.

In addition, through the Canada Nature Fund, the Government of Canada has invested $564,150 in a Nature-Action Québec project that protects 100 hectares of Montréal's greenbelt. This recent investment has made it possible to purchase land, establish a new conservation area and connect this new area to other conservation areas. Protected areas under this project include mature forests, wetlands and marshlands. This project receives financial support from several partners, including the Government of Quebec.


"For many Canadians, nature is a legacy and a part of our identity. That's why we are doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada. By working together to conserve nature, we can ensure the protection of our water, air and biodiversity. We have a duty to do so for the generations of today and tomorrow."

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"For Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the conservation of the aquatic environment is an important mandate, as we recently demonstrated with the creation of the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area. The project to designate a group of islands in the St. Lawrence as national wildlife areas is one more step our government is taking to protect the environment."

– Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"The eight islands in the Boucherville Islands archipelago and Île Verte under our stewardship have become a full-fledged fish and amphibian nursery thanks to the intensive program to create spawning areas and improve fish habitats that we rolled out more than 15 years ago. We are very pleased to work closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada in order to designate these islands as national wildlife areas. For us, this is a logical continuation of the initiatives we have been taking in the area for decades."

– Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Montréal Port Authority

"Nature-Action Québec is very enthusiastic about the Government of Canada's action to conserve biodiversity in southern Quebec. Nature-Action Québec's partnership with municipalities, landowners, private foundations and the governments of Quebec and Canada supports the achievement of the 17 percent protected area target. Nature-Action Québec would like to thank the federal government for this great initiative and remains confident that it will be able to contribute further to substantial gains in protected areas in southern Quebec."

– Pascal Bigras, Executive Director, Nature-Action Québec

"The Government of Canada's funding is making a significant contribution to this ambitious project: building the Greater Montréal green and blue network. We hope this type of project will multiply in the coming years to increase the amount of protected natural areas in the metropolitan region. The Montréal Metropolitan Community is pleased to work with partners to quickly provide the region with an important green and blue network that will protect and enhance our natural environments for generations to come."

– Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal and President of the Montréal Metropolitan Community

Quick facts

The Government of Canada is committed to doubling the amount of protected nature in our lands and oceans across Canada.

These two major projects are part of Pathway to Canada Target 1, with the objective to conserve 17 percent of terrestrial land and inland waters and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The creation of national wildlife areas is regulated by the Canada Wildlife Act. This process involves multiple steps, which include consultations with Indigenous communities and local partners.

Conservation work is being carried out across the country and will help Canada achieve its 2020 conservation objectives, promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, protect and recover species at risk and improve biodiversity for all.

Canada has 20 percent of the world's freshwater reserves, 24 percent of the world's wetlands, 25 percent of the world's temperate rain forests and 33 percent of the world's remaining boreal forests.

The $500 million Canada Nature Fund will be matched by $500 million in funding from partners, for a total of $1 billion in support of Canada's nature conservation efforts.

Related products

St. Lawrence islands project
Investment in the Greater Montréal greenbelt

Associated links

Pathway to Canada Target 1
Canada's Nature Legacy

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Twitter page
Environment and Climate Change Canada's Facebook page

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Sabrina Kim, Press Secretary,
Office of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change,
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Media Relations, Environment and Climate Change Canada,
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free),
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