Richelieu's “Corridor Vert et Bleu”

Context and project description 

This is an ambitious project that is able to respond to the challenges and issues before it. The Richelieu River is a jewel of biodiversity: more than half of the species of freshwater fish in Quebec can be found in it, including the world's only population of copper redhorse. We have identified 43 wildlife species and 140 rare plant species in the river, a quarter of all species at risk in Quebec. Yet, despite isolated efforts to restore the banks, the water quality and habitats of this river remain largely affected by urban development and agricultural practices that take place in its watershed.

Therefore, it consists of creating an “ecological corridor” on the entire watershed, meaning continuous vegetation strips along the banks (trees, shrubs and native grasses – which can filter and thereby reduce the sources of nonpoint source pollution, all while serving as a wildlife movement corridor. Currently, only 16% of the watershed is located in wooded areas, a figure that is significantly lower than the critical threshold for maintaining biodiversity (30%).

Results

Erosion-prone areas in the Richelieu River watershed have been identified and mapped. This information has been shared with the project partners, and has led to workshops and meetings aimed at increasing collaboration among stakeholders and identifying priority areas for intervention. The voluntary participation approach adopted in this project made it possible to carry out various activities aimed at creating an ecological corridor, including the planting of trees in riparian buffer strips, and to provide recommendations for enhancing the banks of the Richelieu River and of other watercourses in its watershed. A conservation agreement aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the riparian developments has also been finalized. However, owing to a lack of administrative tools, the land acquisition and servitude/easement initiatives were not completed. Wildlife surveys were also carried out to document the presence of species at risk, including the copper redhorse (threatened) and the wood turtle (vulnerable).

In the next phase of the St. Lawrence Action Plan, the project will be re-examined to identify tools and methods for optimizing the benefits derived from the invested resources, with the goal of enhancing ecosystems, and using the Richelieu, from its source to the St. Lawrence, as a unifying principle.

Consult the explanatory brochure for the project.

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
  • Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs 
  • Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation
  • Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire