Plan Nord Consultation Table: Canadian Boreal Initiative Support, with

MONTRÉAL, Nov. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Tomorrow the government will hold its first gathering of stakeholders for the Plan Nord consultation table. The Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) reiterates its support for the Québec government's Plan Nord and its commitment to permanently protect at least half of the area covered by the plan. However, the organization is deeply concerned that key environmental groups and Aboriginal leaders have not been properly engaged in the government consultation, and believes their involvement is key to its success.

"We support Minister Normandeau and Premier Charest as they embark on this complex and critical process. Bringing together diverse interests to find solutions for common goals, rather than merely presenting a government plan as a fait accompli, is an admirable approach. This plan has the potential to become an international model of development," said Suzann Méthot, Québec regional director for CBI. "We support the government's goals of balancing conservation and sustainable development and the process of bringing partners together to determine best practices. However, its success and credibility are jeopardized if the conservation community is largely neglected and Aboriginal communities are not granted government-to-government status."

The best way to ensure the success of the Plan Nord is for the government to establish rigorous sustainable development and land protection norms, and include scientists, citizens, local communities, and Aboriginal representatives to fully participate in the search for solutions. "While we appreciate being invited to participate in this process, other members of the conservation community must also be invited to consult," continued Ms. Méthot. "Although we take our role in this process very seriously, we do not represent the entirety of the conservation community. It is critical that a broad diversity of voices be included."

Aboriginal Involvement

The government must engage Aboriginal leaders to play an essential role in the development of the Plan Nord if they hope to succeed. Specifically, the government needs to establish a governent-to-government relationship with those Aboriginal communities situated in the area described in the Plan Nord.

CBI recently negotiated a partnership with the Assembly of the First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL), with a joint objective of protecting and sustainably developing its territories, including northern Québec. This partnership will allow its Sustainable Development Institute to develop a plan for territorial management, focused on the stewardship of the land.

The Boreal forest in the Plan Nord

Québec's Boreal forest is part of the global Boreal forest, the largest intact forest region in the world and one of the most important terrestrial carbon reserves on the planet. The disturbance of soil and deforestation release considerable quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. By establishing protective measures for the land in question under the Plan Nord before industrial development, and ensuring that unprotected residual territories are developed in a sustainable way, the government of Québec could secure the ongoing viability of the land. This will also significantly contribute to efforts to mitigate climate change.

The Canadian Boreal Initiative

Established in 2003, Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) is a national convener for conservation in Canada's Boreal forest. We work with conservation organizations, Aboriginal communities, industry and other interested parties - including members of the Boreal Leadership Council - to link science, policy and conservation solutions across Canada's Boreal forest. The organization encourages equality as stated under the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework.

SOURCE Canadian Boreal Initiative

For further information: For further information: Suzann Méthot, Regional Director - Québec, CBI, (514) 792-1843,; Mathew Jacobson, Pew Charitable Trusts, (202) 277-8463

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