Areas of ecological interest 2016-2021

Consolidate the portrait of other conservation measures and improve structures for acquiring information

The area covered by the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP) consists largely of private land. Until recent years, however, the portrait of privately owned protected areas listed in Quebec’s Register of Protected Areas was incomplete. As part of the SLAP 2011-2016, our experts developed a georeferenced database to gather, process and verify all the information previously compiled in the Directory of Protected Natural Areas by the Réseau de milieux naturels protégés (RMN). In collaboration with the RMN, a vast operation to acquire data on privately owned protected areas was also launched to complete the RMN’s information. Lastly, to keep the data up to date, the Plateforme d'enregistrement de mesures de conservation sur terres privées was launched. It is an interactive Web-based tool where stakeholders can list the private lands they are protecting through their conservation initiatives.

The goal of the SLAP 2016-2021 project is to make the platform more user friendly and to encourage stakeholders to use it. Users will then have a reliable, real-time image of the conservation efforts being deployed on private land. This Web-based tool can be used to conduct more informed geomatic analyses. It will also facilitate knowledge sharing among all stakeholders and interested persons, who will, in turn, be better able to guide their conservation efforts by using the RMN’s Directory of Protected Natural Areas and the MDDELCC’s Register of Protected Areas in Quebec, which will be regularly updated through the Plateforme d'enregistrement de mesures de conservation sur terres privées.

Protect St. Lawrence fish habitats and their connectivity

Over the course of their lives, most fish have to move between different habitats. To help ensure their survival, measures must be taken to ensure that the different areas they frequent, from birth to adulthood, are sufficiently abundant, healthy and interconnected.

The goal of the SLAP project is to preserve connectivity between habitats of the river and its tributaries. It will focus on a wide variety of habitats such as sections of the flood plain, tributary mouths, navigable and non-navigable channels, deep trenches and shallow marshes. It will also focus on migration corridors and unimpeded passage not only to meet the needs of migratory species such as the American shad, striped bass, lake sturgeon and American eel, but also to assess the risk of invasion by alien species such as the Asian carp. As new data are collected, experts will update the electronic atlas of St. Lawrence biodiversity, part of which is already available on the St. Lawrence Global Observatory site.

Give communities the tools they need to conserve natural areas of the St. Lawrence

In the previous phase of the SLAP (2011-2016), our specialists identified the natural areas to be conserved on a priority basis in sectors of the St. Lawrence Lowlands and coastal areas of the estuary and Gulf. Biodiversity in these areas is threatened by factors such as urbanization, agriculture and shoreline erosion.

With a view to coordinating conservation efforts and equipping local communities, this project will involve preparing and disseminating a global conservation approach and providing stakeholders with decision-making tools such as maps, reports and analysis results. These actions will help stakeholders determine the most relevant and effective conservation measures to be taken.

Assess the health and biodiversity of protected areas of the St. Lawrence and adjacent lands

In a previous phase of the SLAP, about 20 ecological indicators were selected to assess the health of national wildlife areas located along the St. Lawrence and its banks. These indicators included habitat area and the abundance of certain bird, bat and amphibian species. At the same time, the development of a Quebec-wide biodiversity monitoring program was launched.

The goal of this new project is to implement an ecological and biodiversity monitoring program in public or private protected areas located along the St. Lawrence and on adjacent lands. Specialists will determine the sampling sites and methods, and will use key indicators to monitor the health of the river ecosystems. More specifically, they will look at the retreating shorelines due to erosion, the quantity of species at risk and the presence of invasive alien species.

At the end of this project, the public will have a report on the health and biodiversity of protected areas along the St. Lawrence.

Link priority conservation areas to ensure the survival of St. Lawrence Lowland species

In the first phase of the SLAP project, priority areas for conservation in the St. Lawrence Lowlands were identified. However, these areas may be separated from one another by roads, towns or fields. But animal and plant species need to be able to move about or spread freely in these areas. Otherwise, it can be difficult for them to reproduce and survive.

The experts involved in this new study component are pursuing the following objectives: map the areas that have important natural habitats for plants and animals, and determine the best way to connect these conservation areas to each other without impacting human activity. For example, the restoration of natural areas and the installation of wide enough natural riparian strips (10 to 20 m wide) could make it easier for animal species to move about and for plant species to spread throughout the territory where they can grow.

With this project, local communities and citizens will have access to the knowledge that is gained about priority areas and proposed methods for linking conservation areas to each other. Local communities and citizens may also draw inspiration from suggested concrete actions that could be taken to establish this connectivity and effectively restore habitats.

Create a conservation atlas for the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

The project goal is to establish an inventory and map of all measures being implemented in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence to contribute to marine biodiversity conservation in addition to marine protected areas. Governments will be able to use this atlas to better plan future conservation measures.

Restore the Lake Saint-Pierre shoreline

Lake Saint-Pierre is home to over 280 bird species and 78 fish species. Many species, such as the yellow perch and the brown bullhead, use the calm waters of the lake’s floodplain to feed and reproduce. The lake is used for agriculture after the water recedes, and current practices not only promote soil erosion during spring flooding but also limit the ability of wildlife to access quality habitat. Local communities would like to reconcile farmers’ needs with biodiversity conservation. In the first phase of this project (2011-2016), restoration work was done with farmers, who were encouraged to modify their practices in a way that would maintain protective buffers on both sides of the waterway using vegetation cover that is conducive to maintaining fish and wildlife.

In the second phase (2016-2021), the goal of our experts is to produce a guide of best conservation practices and an atlas of sites suitable for restoration, to facilitate the involvement of local communities. Our experts will also participate in the restoration of certain sites and will follow up to measure the benefits to local wildlife.

Protect and restore the St. Lawrence River’s degraded wetlands

In a previous phase of the SLAP, an Atlas of Bank Restoration Sites of the St. Lawrence River was created. It catalogues nearly 500 sites along the St. Lawrence that are disturbed by human activity and that have restoration potential. Around 200 of them contain wetlands and habitats of great ecological value that particularly help mitigate the adverse effects of flooding and climate change.  

The goal of the new project is to create a wetland restoration guide. Specifically, it could help users choose wetlands to be restored, establish better objectives for restoration work (reference ecosystems) and choose appropriate techniques.