The CAQ promises to strengthen the protection of wetlands

The Legault government promises to strengthen the protection of wetlands, which continue to disappear in Quebec despite legislation intended to slow the decline of these natural spaces of great importance for biodiversity.

The Coalition Avenir Québec on Wednesday gave its support to the adoption of a motion presented by Québec solidaire which “asks the government of Quebec to revise and strengthen the legislation relating to the protection of wetlands in order to slow down their progressive destruction.”

Questioned following the adoption of the motion, the Minister of the Environment of Quebec, Benoit Charette, promised to present “regulatory modifications” in order to “strengthen the regulations”, and this, “in the coming weeks” .

“Currently we have figures that speak for themselves. We collect sums that we cannot disburse given the constraints. This is one of the aspects we want to work on,” he said.

According to information published last month by The Press, the government has authorized the destruction of 23.3 km2 of wetlands since the adoption of the Act concerning the conservation of wetlands and bodies of water in June 2017. This set an objective of zero net loss of wetlands, thanks to to a financial compensation mechanism. For example, Northvolt paid $4.75 million to destroy 138,000 square meters of wetlands.

However, barely 1% of the $173 million collected in compensation has been invested to date in the creation or restoration of equivalent environments, according to data obtained by The Press.

A situation which has given rise to numerous criticisms, since in fact, wetlands continue to decline in Quebec, in particular to the benefit of urban sprawl and the development of various commercial and industrial projects.

The Quebec government is doing too little in terms of protecting wetlands and bodies of water to respect a key objective of its law, warned last year the Commissioner for Sustainable Development, Janique Lambert, in a report submitted to the National Assembly.

Solidarity MP Alejandra Zaga Mendez, who tabled the motion on Wednesday, welcomed its adoption. “Faced with the loss of several wetlands and natural environments, we must redouble our efforts and vigilance in order to maintain ecosystems and remain active in the fight against climate change,” she argued.

The motion from Québec solidaire was tabled in the context of the International Day of Biological Diversity and it also aimed to recall “the urgency of acting in the face of the alarming situation of the loss of biodiversity linked to the degradation of wetlands, essential for the maintenance of ecosystems and the fight against climate change”.

In this context, it “reiterates the need to quickly achieve the objective of protecting 30% of Quebec territory by 2030”. The government of Quebec is committed to achieving this target, which was put forward in particular within the framework of the global agreement for biodiversity signed in Montreal in December 2022.

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