Anticosti Island takes another step towards being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The island, which was once coveted for its hydrocarbon reserves, will become a projected biodiversity reserve (RBP) on just over a quarter of its surface.
Environment Minister Benoit Charette made the announcement Monday morning at a press conference in Port-Menier, on the island, adding an envelope of $ 1.2 million. “Hunting, fishing and sustainable forestry will be possible,” explained Mr. Charette, in an interview with The Canadian Press Monday afternoon.
By sustainable forestry, we mean “maintenance, cuts to protect a sector, to allow its reforestation, but we are not talking about a business [d’exploitation forestière] “, He specified.
The RBP is one of the protection requirements demanded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the recognition of Anticosti Island as a World Heritage Site.
This new reserve covers an area of 1651 km². It is essentially a strip which encircles the coastline of the island and which also includes other areas considered important to protect. The protected territory of the island will thus drop from 7.6% to 28.4%.
“No way to go back, there will be no shale gas exploration,” Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien said by videoconference.
The island’s candidacy for UNESCO World Heritage status is still far from ready. “We are aware that there is still a fair amount of work to be done to flesh out this file [de candidature] “Admitted Environment Minister Benoit Charette. However, a “voluntary deposit” of a first draft of the candidacy should be made public in the coming days by the municipality, the minister said. As for the official filing, it should take place in February.
“We are in competition with places all over the world,” said the mayor of the municipality of L’Île-d´Anticosti, John Pineault. When you put together a case at UNESCO, it has to be perfect. “
The municipality is also counting on the creation of a large hiking trail – a kind of Quebec “Compostela”, said Mr. Charette.
“It will translate into jobs », Commented the mayor, who pleaded for the development of the natural heritage of the regions. “If you have a sharp niche, if you know how to operate it rationally and intelligently, then it is possible to live in the regions and be a vibrant part of the social fabric of Quebec. “
Remember that over the past decade, this huge island in the middle of the St. Lawrence, recognized as a hunting paradise, has been the subject of covetousness and controversy. Oil and gas companies wanted to exploit its hydrocarbon resources, with the blessing of the Marois government at the time.
The Couillard government then imposed a moratorium in 2017 on exploration to find and exploit hydrocarbons. The Quebec government subsequently had to compensate companies for a total of about $ 62 million.