Pointe Verte, QC (Photo by Pierre Veillette)
Standing on the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula, visitors can see dense forests at their back, and marshes, estuaries and stunning views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the front. There is no shortage of natural wonders to see and explore in the Gaspé. In fact, in 2011 National Geograpic magazine named the region one of the top worlwide tourism destinations.
Located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, the peninsula is a continuation of the Appalachian mountain range. It therefore features a harsh landscape of exceptional natural diversity, and dense stands of Maritime mixed forest.
The Gaspé Peninsula coastal habitat covers 1,065 square kilometres. Considered a biodiversity hotspot in Quebec, this natural area forms a coastal plain dotted with wetlands along the shore of the peninsula. Towards the interior, the terrain is mountainous and covered in mixed boreal forest.
The 2,500-acre (1,000-hectare) forest has not been significantly disturbed by human activity. As such, this natural area forms a crucial link between coastal habitats at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula and the continental Appalachians.
Influenced by the proximity of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, this natural area supports diverse flora and fauna, including some 200 species of migratory birds and a dozen threatened species. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has been working to conserve land here since the late 1990s. To date, these efforts have protected nearly 1,235 acres (500 hectares) of habitat across 26 properties.
Point St. Peter
Point St. Peter forms the easternmost point of the Gaspé Peninsula. Located halfway between the towns of Gaspé and Percé, Point St. Peter is comprised of meadows, forests, and 10-metre cliffs along the shorelines of the Gaspé coast. This distinctive ecosystem supports many different mammals and birds. Notably, large flocks of ducks can be found at Point St. Peter in the spring and fall, including Barrow's goldeneye, which depends on undisturbed coastal zones and tree cavities for nesting.
Within Point St. Peter is a smaller and densly forested point — the 74-acre (30-hectare) Green Point — one of the few remaining intact riverbank forests in this region of Quebec. It is considered one of the most beautiful spots on the Gaspé Peninsula. It is also among the most vulnerable, due to the pressure of residential development and zoning.
Known as "Paradise Point" by locals, this site offers an unrivalled view of the coastal landscape and Percé Rock — perhaps the region's most well-known and iconic images. Running along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence for close to two kilometres, this riverside location is unique in the region. While dominated by white spruce, this forest also contains balsam fir and paper birch.
The property provides habitat for many woodland birds, such as warblers and thrushes. Moose, red fox and white-tailed deer also live here. In addition to terrestrial wildlife, many wetland species use the wooded areas to feed, hibernate and lay eggs.
A natural partnership
Since 2008, NCC has protected 1,050 acres (425 hectares) throughout the Gaspé coastal habitats natural area. And now, thanks in part to funding through the TD Forests program, NCC has protected an additional 74 acres (30 hectares) at Pointe-Saint-Pierre. Known as "Pointe Verte" (Green Point), this area comprises an old-growth forest and more than a kilometre and a half of shoreline.
The TD Forests program will increase the amount of forested lands protected and cared for by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Over five years, the program will conserve an average of two football fields a day. TD and NCC are also engaging more Canadians in the mission to conserve our forests, which will safeguard not just the trees, but all the living things that rely on forested habitats.
- Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program