Nature Conservancy-Quebec

Nature Conservancy-Quebec
Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

December 01, 2006 14:30 ET

Abitibi-Consolidated Donates Peat Bog to Nature Conservancy-Quebec to Create Largest Private Protected Area in St. Lawrence Lowland

TROIS-RIVIERES, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 1, 2006) - Abitibi-Consolidated and Nature Conservancy-Quebec signed an agreement today confirming the ecological gift of 14 km2 of land, forming a major part of the Lac a la Tortue peat bog. With its 6,633 hectares of land, the Lac a la Tortue peat bog is the largest peatland in the St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Champlain ecoregion. The event was attended by several dignitaries, including Julie Boulet, Delegate Minister of Transportation and Minister responsible for the Mauricie Region, members of the scientific community and many guests, who had come to underscore the generosity of Abitibi-Consolidated, and its social and environmental commitment, represented by this major ecological gift. "This contribution from Abitibi-Consolidated is a good example of the generous participation of a private business in the protection of Quebec's natural heritage," pointed out Jean Simard, chairman of the board for Nature Conservancy-Quebec.

"Abitibi-Consolidated is proud to be part of this major ecological project. By giving this large parcel of land to Nature Conservancy, our goal is not only to help protect threatened and vulnerable species, but also to promote in-depth research into fragile ecosystems such as peat bogs," said Richard Drouin, Abitibi-Consolidated's chairman of the board.

"The donation of the properties by Abitibi-Consolidated is a major step in the protection of the Lac a la Tortue peat bog, and we are pleased with this exemplary partnership that will benefit both present and future generations. The gift of the Lac a la Tortue peat bog is actually the largest donation in terms of area that Nature Conservancy has received so far in the St. Lawrence Lowland," declared Pierre Renaud, general manager of Nature Conservancy-Quebec.

Inventories conducted in the peat bog have identified the presence of species likely to be designated as threatened or vulnerable, such as the four-toed salamander, the white fringed orchid and the twin-scaped bladderwort. The presence of this large wetland and its biodiversity will likely persuade academic institutions to conduct scientific studies there. This initiative could also encourage multidisciplinary research and help in understanding the impacts of human and natural pressures on these ecosystems, such as global warming.

A peat bog is a fragile ecosystem created over many centuries through the gradual build-up of plant debris in waterlogged areas under a cool, wet climate. Poorly known is the fact that peat bogs fulfill many roles and functions that make them valuable ecosystems. For example, the role played by peat bogs in the carbon cycle is often mentioned with regard to climate change and the greenhouse effect because they store a large amount of carbon. Also, since they present unique conditions-acidity, low numbers of nutrients, hydrology, broad range of habitats-peat bogs support specific, unique communities of plants and birds, illustrating their significant contribution to a region's biodiversity.

The partners that have moved this project forward are Abitibi-Consolidated, Quebec's Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), along with Environment Canada's Ecological Gift Program. Nature Conservancy serves as the contact between the partners and is involved in the protection of fragile environments. The availability of this site must be made known for academic purposes in order to make the region's residents aware of the environmental problems and to explain ongoing research.

Nature Conservancy is a private charitable organization that ensures the preservation in perpetuity of natural areas that are important for biological diversity. Since 1962, Nature Conservancy has helped to protect over 1.9 million acres across Canada, including more than 35,000 in Quebec. Nature Conservancy works closely with landowners, public and private companies, conservation groups and governments to protect the masterpieces of Quebec's natural heritage for present and future generations.

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