New York Times
In April, the government of Premier Jean Charest introduced a bill in the Quebec National Assembly that seeks to protect nearly 150 million acres — half of northern Quebec, an area the size of France — from industrial development, including logging, mining and petroleum exploration. The bill matters, not just to Canada but to the world: The boreal forests and tundra of northern Canada remain a relatively intact ecosystem, absorbing more carbon than the world’s tropical forests and providing a vital buffer against global warming. Industrial development would weaken that buffer, and, as things stand now, there is almost nothing to prevent it.
Mr. Charest is not against development. Last year, he proposed Plan Nord, to manage the public lands of northern Quebec in a way that balances exploitation and conservation. Permanently setting aside 150 million acres would still leave plenty of room for economic development in northern Quebec, and it would set a remarkable precedent for sustainable use. It will take years of planning before these new protections come into force. But this bill will lay the groundwork for one of the largest land conservation initiatives in history.
Read the full editorial, Quebec's Front-Line Forests, on the New York Times website.