Protection of the environment

Flower field

The renewed Plan Nord offers an opportunity to establish and specify conservation measures to protect 50% of the land lying north of the 49th parallel from industrial activities, including a measure to establish protected areas. As part of this process, the Québec government’s target is to ensure that, by 2020, 20% of the area covered by the Plan Nord is made up of protected areas, of which at least 12% will comprise boreal forest north of the 49th parallel. Steps will also be taking to implement a mechanism for the priority allocation of the remaining 30% of the area for non-industrial activities. This part of the North will be dedicated to the protection of the environment, the safeguarding of biodiversity and the promotion of various types of development. The government intends to continue the process to establish national parks as part of the implementation of the Plan Nord.

In the environmental protection field, the government will continue to act in compliance with the conventions, laws, regulations and specific agreements on the environment that apply in the area covered by the Plan Nord, while respecting its constitutional obligation to conduct consultations with Aboriginals. It will ensure that development projects are only implemented following strict environmental analyses that respect the processes in place and the populations concerned, giving priority to a support/ advisory approach.

The government will act with efficiency, diligence and rigour with respect to all the prior authorizations needed for project development, and will apply all the required supervisory mechanisms. Concrete initiatives will be proposed to improve the transparency and application of the processes to make them more efficient.

This vast and little-known area is fragile and evolving rapidly, in particular as the result of climate change. To deal with the difficulties this creates, the government will continue to work with its northern and scientific partners to define ways to adapt to climate change.


  • By 2035, dedicate 50% of the area covered by the Plan Nord to non-industrial purposes, protection of the environment and the safeguarding of biodiversity.
  • Extend geo-physical and ecological knowledge of the land base.
  • Elaborate and conduct ecological planning exercises and increase the weight of ecological information in the decision-making process.
  • Improve the public consultation process in terms of transparency and accessibility by using new technologies and developing communication tools.
  • Continue to develop national parks.

Map 8 : Area covered by the 50% target – Existing protected areas (March 2015)

Plan Nord