Île de Grâce, lac Saint-Pierre, QC (Photo by Claude Duchaîne)

Île de Grâce, lac Saint-Pierre, QC (Photo by Claude Duchaîne)

An ecological treasure to be cherished

May 29, 2019


The Nature Conservancy of Canada raises public awareness for the islands of Lac Saint-Pierre

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working closely with users of sensitive islands in the Sorel region to find a balance between land use and protecting nature. NCC has been conserving lands in the Lac Saint-Pierre archipelago, which is designated a UNESCO world biosphere reserve.

The non-profit organization has been informing users, through a conservation awareness campaign, on what are appropriate activities on these islands. Together, NCC and the community are building an understanding of support for the birds and fish populations and their habitats.

The Lac Saint-Pierre islands are important for many species. Visitors to the forested wetlands, which provide resting, feeding and breeding habitat, can see many bird species. The wetlands are also located in the heart of the Atlantic flyway.

Some uses, including off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic between the aquatic and terrestrial environments of the islands, are likely to disturb wetland species. The wetlands are home to least bittern, a species designated as threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and vulnerable under Quebec’s Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species (ARTVS). Another concern is fish habitat in the aquatic grass beds, such as copper redhorse, a species designated as endangered under SARA and threatened under ARTVS.  

For the past two years, NCC has monitored recreational uses on its properties and has been educating the public. NCC has set up checkpoints on certain trails reminding users to stop using their ORVs in sensitive areas and to operate them only on marked trails.  

NCC biologists organized four meetings with cottagers and other members of the public who use the islands to inform them of the importance of this sensitive area. Staff encouraged people to enjoy the area while also taking precautions to minimize their footprint and impact. Most participants were receptive, and NCC hopes this open-minded response continues over the coming week and months. These lands are protected to be shared by everybody —  for people and species alike.

Another project promoting the ecological diversity of Lac Saint-Pierre

NCC is embarking on a new undertaking to preserve the natural beauty and species that live here with a project in the municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel titled “Retour au pâturage à l’île du Moine”. This project will help country birds. Livestock attracts more insects than any crop does, making pastures excellent feeding habitat for the 30 or so insectivorous bird species historically found on l’île du Moine.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada would like to thank the following donors for their financial support in these projects: the Fondation de la faune du Québec, the Community Interaction Program, Environment and Climate Change Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques through the Ensemble pour la nature project, and Employment and Social Development Canada.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada would also like to thank the partners who contributed to the success of this project in Lac Saint-Pierre: the municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, the Comité ZIP of Lac Saint-Pierre, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Regroupement QuébecOiseaux, the Société de conservation, d’interprétation et de recherche de Berthier et ses îles (SCIRBI), the Regroupement des Sauvaginiers du lac Saint-Pierre, the Association des chasseurs et pêcheurs de Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel and the Commune de l’île du Moine.


“This unifying project has made it possible to protect some of the richest natural environments in Quebec, thanks to the participation of a motivated Lac Saint-Pierre community. There are now 27 kilometres of marked trails for users of off-road vehicles to pursue their activities. This alleviates pressures on the sensitive areas where nearly 300 hectares of wildlife habitats of status species are preserved.  We are pleased to find a balance and hope this understanding and mutual respect continues. ” – Valérie Aubin, project coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Quebec.


  • NCC protects 2,471 acres (1,000 hectares), spread over eight islands, within the Lac Saint-Pierre archipelago. Protecting wetlands in Quebec is a top priority for NCC, especially in the face of climate change. The vast freshwater floodplains of Lac Saint-Pierre are the most extensive in Quebec. They are the largest areas of wetlands in the entire river.
  • UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are areas that include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions that reconcile biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. There are 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries. The Lac Saint-Pierre sector has been recognized as a reserve since 2000.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is Canada’s leading not-for-profit private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast, including 111,197 acres (45,000 hectares) in Quebec. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

The mission of the Fondation de la faune du Québec is to promote the conservation and enhancement of wildlife and its habitats. Thanks to the contribution of more than one million hunters, fishermen and trappers in Quebec, thousands of donors, and numerous private companies, the Foundation has supported more than 2,000 organizations throughout Quebec since 1987, creating a true wildlife movement.

The Ensemble pour la nature project is a three-year, $15 million grant to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) from Quebec’s ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC). It aims to establish financial partnerships and acquire scientific knowledge to ensure the conservation and protection of natural environments on private lands in Quebec between now and March 31, 2020. It thus promotes solidarity with respect to protected areas by involving Quebec communities in conservation actions.

The Community Interaction Program (CIP) is a financial assistance program that supports community-based projects to conserve and improve the St. Lawrence ecosystem. As part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP 2011-2026), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec (MELCC) are implementing this program.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP), administered by NCC, is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate land conservation in southern Canada. Through matching contributions, NCC and its partners enhance federal funding. The habitats conserved through the NACP help strengthen the protection of natural corridors and other protected areas.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) works to improve the standard of living and quality of life for all Canadians by promoting a mobile and highly skilled workforce and an effective and inclusive labour market.

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Media Contact:

Elizabeth Sbaglia
Communications Manager, Quebec Region
Nature Conservancy of Canada
514-876-1606 x6240

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