C19: New Watershed Protection
While we continue to protect ourselves during these C-19 pandemic times, it’s encouraging that environmental organizations, plus federal and provincial governments are continuing their protection of Pontiac’s wilderness.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Ottawa Valley Chapter is well known to anyone in the Outaouais who supports wilderness and wildlife conservation.
Similarly, the CREDDO (Conseil régional en environnement et développement durable de l’Outaouais) works diligently to preserve wild habitats.
Together, these organizations announced that 115,000 hectares will be protected in MRC Pontiac.
Announced on World Environment Day (June 5), CREDDO and CPAWS-OV commended the federal government for granting $300,000 towards creating a protected area in the Coulonge and Noire rivers’ watersheds.
CREDDO’s Executive Director Benoit Delage noted, “This is a significant step towards the target of protecting 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas by 2020 that the governments of Quebec and Canada have set for themselves.”
Geneviève Le Blanc, Conservation Director at CPAWS-OV, echoes Delage’s recognition, noting, “The Outaouais is entitled to its 17% of preserved lands. Protected areas must represent the diversity of Quebec’s ecosystems, and several valuable natural environments are found in our region, including species at risk habitats and old-growth forests.”
When areas are designated for protection, sometimes residents and outdoors enthusiasts equate this with reduced access.
Therefore, there will be an impact assessment study, which will allow researchers to recommend how best to balance recreational activities with conservation.
“Proper planning of protected areas is essential for maintaining the rich local biodiversity, but it must also be done in collaboration with local stakeholders to contribute to a development that is sustainable for the region,” said Jérôme Dupras, professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais and one of the researchers mandated to conduct the impact assessment.
Pontiac’s Liberal MP William Amos adds, “I am glad that the impact-assessment study will ensure that all points of view are incorporated in the planning process, including those of the Algonquin Nation, the forestry sector, the tourism sector, and our municipalities.”
Protection from whom?
I’ve paddled the Noire since 1977 and know some parts of the river and its contributories well. My paddling friends and I’ve seen the river increasingly used by canoeists, campers, and day-trippers floating downstream on inflatables.
Our human impact is increasingly marked upon the landscape. Not only by beach campfires – reminders of happy times – but also by garbage.
Far too many people – including those who profess to love nature — exhibit a wanton disregard for protecting the outdoors they claim to love.
Some go on a canoe trip and toss beer cans into the forest – or flatten cans and burn them in their campfires, yet fail to retrieve and pack their garbage out. And in making their campfires, people venture further and further into the forests, in a quest for firewood and also, to use the woods as their toilet.
We need to reflect upon our expectations.
Nature doesn’t exist to satisfy our whims. “Nature” is a complex tapestry of life, of creatures big and small trying to live in their ecological niche. Each creature’s needs are different: their specific habitat may be the shallows, an ox-bow, or rapids of the Noire or Coulonge rivers. Or, it may be the forests and clearings.
All represent crucial homes for wild animals and plants.
Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser wrote, “You are a guest of nature: behave.”
Because we as individuals aren’t terribly good at “behaving”, Nature needs organizations such as CREDDO and CPAWS-OV to protect increasingly fragile, fragmented ecosystems.
Some view this as interference by government.
Me? I’m delighted these organizations plus the governments of Canada and Quebec are helping us to recognize the worth of our Pontiac’s – and Quebec’s and Canada’s – rich natural heritage, and preserve it.
Way to go, CPAWS and CREDDO. In this time of pandemic, it’s particularly wonderful that your lobbying for Nature’s protection is successful and ongoing. Thank-you.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and view her art at facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/