Area covered by the Plan Nord and key features
The renewed Plan Nord will apply to the same geographical area as the initial plan, namely all of Québec located north of the 49th parallel and north of the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, an area of almost 1.2 million km2 that represents 72% of Québec’s total land mass (Maps 1 and 2).
Most of the area covered by the Plan Nord is governed by the Baie-James and Northern Québec Agreement and the Northeastern Québec Agreement.
It has a population of over 120,000 people, of whom one-third are Aboriginals from four nations (Inuit, Cree, Innu and Naskapi), living in 31 communities (Map 3). There are also 32 non-aboriginal communities in the Baie-James, north of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Côte-Nord regions.
The area of the Plan Nord is richly endowed with natural resources:
- It contains extensive mineral deposits and accounts for Québec’s entire production of many different minerals.
- It has over 200,000 km2 of forests, or over half of all the productive forest land in Québec.
- It is the site of 75% of Québec’s installed hydroelectric capacity and has further untapped potential for hydroelectric, wind and solar energy generation.
- With landscapes containing outstanding wildlife potential and a range of local cultures, it has the potential to become a world-class tourism destination.
The area covered by the Plan Nord presents a range of challenges created by its geographic, demographic, social and environmental features. The major challenges are connected with:
- Abundant, diversified natural resources that are hard to access and are located in a distinctive, often fragile environment that deserves special attention.
- An immense, sparsely populated area with small, scattered communities, half of which are aboriginal and have sometimes fallen behind in terms of service provision and living conditions.
- A dynamic occupation of the area by people who play an active role in the socio-economic development of their community.
- The gathering of knowledge and commissioning of research to ensure more effective planning of environmentally respectful work.