Develop an integrated plan for priority conservation areas

Context and project description

Part of this project is to develop a plan for conserving habitats deemed to be priorities following an analysis of the area, integrating data from three other SLAP projects: the unified mapping of habitats, the identification of important fish habitats, and the portrait of protected areas and other conservation measures. This is quite a program, which will be made possible as the results of the three projects are obtained. First, there will be an analysis of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, which will likely provide the first anticipated tools for other projects. It will then gradually be expanded to the areas of the estuary and Gulf. In addition to the results from the three projects, development of the plan will be based on several other tools, including various databases and priorities identified by various stakeholders: departments (conservation plans for species at risk), non-governmental conservation organizations, RCMs, municipalities, etc.

A landscape approach will underlie the process, taking into consideration the makeup and spatial configuration of habitats. Socioeconomic aspects will also be included in the analysis in order to highlight the areas most subject to anthropogenic pressure.

The final product will be an integrated plan that will identify priority conservation and restoration sites. The plan must meet three objectives: increase the overall size of the protected habitats, promote their connectivity, and create transition areas. It could be used, among other things, to orient the conservation actions of funding programs such as the Community Interaction Program (CIP) and the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for species at risk, or to update RCM land-use planning diagrams.


Development of the integrated plan for priority conservation areas in southern Quebec is well underway. First, a directory of the projects aimed at identifying natural sites of interest in southern Quebec was created. It is now possible to consult an online interactive map that shows information about almost 150 projects carried out between 2000 and 2014.
In addition, teams of experts are finalizing identification of the sites of interest for conservation of the major ecosystem types found in southern Quebec (wetlands, forests, open fields, aquatic environments, and the fluvial system) and in coastal environments in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence (coastal marshes, sand-based or dune habitat, bird colonies, etc.). The directory will also include recommendations for prioritizing conservation of natural environments and habitat for threatened species, as well as ecosystems that are rare in Quebec. The next step will be to develop implementation strategies for the conservation plans, covering the following aspects:

  • Confirmation that the identified sites are of interest;
  • Involvement of regional stakeholders (NGOs, RCMs, municipalities, etc.);
  • Protection of habitats adjacent to existing protected areas;
  • Habitat restoration;
  • Ecosystem connectivity (the full range of landscape elements that play a role in the movements of living organisms – individuals, species and populations – within a given territory).

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques