Percé - An exceptional diversity of habitats at the Malbaie Salt Marsh
Barachois, Gaspé Peninsula (photo by CNC)
In the Gaspé Peninsula lies one of the most extraordinary environments: the Malbaie Salt Marsh. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) protects close to 200 hectares of this unique natural area. Located between Percé and Gaspé, it features salt and freshwater marshes, coastal forests, a bog and beaches — habitats that are essential to several hundred animal and plant species.
Salt marshes are areas of brackish water separated from the sea by a sandbar. The Malbaie Salt Marsh features a six-kilometre-long sandbar that forms a natural barrier against erosion, and the vegetation here keeps it stable.
An essential environment for endangered species
A migratory stopover site for nesting, resting and feeding, the Malbaie Salt Marsh is recognized worldwide for its great ecological wealth. Designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), this environment is home to more than 240 species of birds, many of which are at risk. Barrow's goldeneye, harlequin duck, bank swallow, red knot, rusty blackbird, olive-sided flycatcher, Canada warbler and short-eared owl are among the rare species that frequent the Malbaie Salt Marsh. During spring and fall migration, large groups of Canada geese and brants stop in the lagoon to feed on eelgrass.
The aquatic environments of the Malbaie Salt Marsh also provide high-quality habitat for a great diversity of fish to feed, grow and reproduce. In particular, these environments are a spawning, or breeding, ground for Atlantic salmon on their run up the Malbaie River.
Combining conservation and public accessibility
The Malbaie Salt Marsh’s spectacular scenery and location on the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence make it a very popular place for recreational activities, such as hiking, birdwatching and biking. It is also recognized by fishing enthusiasts as one of the best places to fish for striped bass in Quebec. Nature lovers can check out the information centre and the marked trail in the heart of the Malbaie Salt Marsh.
Several projects have been carried out on the sandbar to conserve and enhance this exceptional area and improve the visitor experience. NCC, along with partners and volunteers, have planted hundreds of trees and set up three sand catchers to stabilize and restore dunes along the sandbar affected by erosion. Cyclists and walkers can visit the area by crossing a newly installed 520-metre-long wooden footbridge. Visitors can take in the sights from four new viewing platforms or access the beach beside the salt marsh via two new access ramps.
Don't just take our word for it; discover the dunes and forest of the Malbaie Salt Marsh sandbar for yourself!
The Nature Conservancy of Canada thanks its financial partners: Canada Economic Development (CED) for Quebec Regions under the Canadian Community Revitalization (CCRF); the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, through the Partenariat pour les milieux naturels project; the Fondation de la faune du Québec and its financial partner, HydroQuébec; Age of Union Alliance, crucial partner for the St. Lawrence River; the Community Interaction Program, associated with the St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2026 and implemented by Environment and Climate Change Canada, MELCC; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and Wildlife Habitat Canada. Our thanks as well to local organizations, the City of Percé and numerous volunteers for their generous contributions to the project.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada would like to thank the following donors without whom the protection of this property would not have been possible: the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques through the Ensemble pour la nature project, the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Fondation de la faune du Québec.