Earlier this year, the Quebec government announced it would fund the creation of extensive greenbelts around Montreal and Quebec City. It was heartening news for Foundation staff, who had already been hard at work on a proposal for a greenbelt in the Greater Montreal area.
Few Canadians are aware that Quebec's richest biodiversity hotspots are in Greater Montreal. Unfortunately, the vulnerable habitats and species in this area are threatened by urban sprawl, high population density, and habitat fragmentation. For instance, most of the wetlands in Laval, north of Montreal, have been destroyed. And on the south shore of the island, fragmentation and sprawl threatens many birds and amphibians.
A greenbelt would not only ensure that sensitive habitats and species are protected from urban development, it would offer myriad benefits for Montrealers. Green spaces provide physical and psychological health benefits, as well as opportunities for recreation and tourism.
In June, the Foundation's Quebec office, in partnership with Nature-Action Québec (a conservation-based nonprofit), published its first study to guide the creation of the Montreal greenbelt. A crucial first step in the process, the report highlights the state of the ecosystems in this region and offers a blueprint and toolkit on how to achieve its creation within the next five years.
This report, which has been widely distributed to municipal leaders, environmental organizations, and community groups, marks the beginning of a unique and exciting project that will unite stakeholders at the community and provincial levels. It will also involve farmers, landowners, and the tourism industry. The goal is to create a healthy greenbelt that benefits species and habitats as well as humans. It will connect people with nature and empower them to protect the environment on which they depend.
The French report is available at davidsuzuki.org/fr/ceinture-verte. Stay tuned for the second project report, to be published in the fall. It will focus on the economic value of the ecological goods and services provided every year by the proposed greenbelt's natural ecosystems.
Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager