Network - Wildlife Reserves - Sépaq

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Réserve faunique de Matane

Wildlife
Reserves

Background

The network of wildlife reserves was created to conserve and promote some of the most beautiful parts of the province, to ensure they remain accessible to Québec residents and that future generations will, in turn, make reasonable use of forest resources.

Private club era

In the mid-1880s, the government of Québec began granting exclusive hunting and fishing rights on public land. This practice peaked around 1960, when some 2,200 private clubs spanned more than 78,000 km2 of public land. These private clubs generally belonged to non-residents, whereas Quebecers didn't have access to these game-filled areas unless they were wardens, members of the support staff, or hunting and fishing guides.

Parks period

At that time, the government of Québec created several parks. Some of the parks focused on hunting and fishing, and the conservation of the natural environment, although logging was not prohibited. Parc des Laurentides was created in 1895 and, later, hunting and fishing reserves, including Parc de La Vérendrye in 1939, Parc de Chibougamau in 1946, Parc du Saint-Maurice in 1963, and, finally, Parc Papineau-Labelle and Parc Mastigouche in 1971.

Distinction between parks and reserves

The adoption of the Parks Act in 1977 led to the creation of the official network of conservation parks as we know them today, where the use of natural resources, other than fishing, is prohibited. However, as stipulated in the Parks Act, hunting and fishing reserves that also carry the "park" designation are not considered conservation parks; only a section of Parc des Laurentides was used to create the Jacques-Cartier and Grand-Jardins conservation parks. In 1979, the status of hunting and fishing reserve, and park was abolished and replaced with "wildlife reserve."

Access and deprivatization

In the early 1960s, access to wildlife and forests on public land was limited due to the many private hunting and fishing clubs. Public pressure to democratize wildlife exploded in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, the government fast-tracked the creation of hunting and fishing reserves, particularly in southern Québec, and took the first major steps to dismantle the private hunting and fishing clubs. It was during this period that the only government network of hunting and fishing reserves of its kind in the world -- wildlife reserves -- was created.

Reserves under Québec tutorship

Since 1995, the management and promotion of wildlife reserves have been entrusted to Sépaq. Quebecers have developed strong ties with wildlife reserves, which they consider as natural settings that are far superior in terms of conservation, promotion and equal access to wildlife than the rest of Québec's public forests. Whereas they prefer to visit the reserves in their own areas, they feel welcome in the rest of the network.


Network profile

In 1995, the government entrusted the management of wildlife reserves to Sépaq. However, the mandate was awarded subject to certain conditions, one of which involved the self-financing of network activities, which posted a deficit. This led to the application of the pay-per-use principle in wildlife reserves.

The other conditions included regional community involvement in the management and promotion of its land, thereby ensuring an alignment with regional development strategies.

 Main characteristics

  • Network of 13 wildlife reserves
  • Close to 41,000 km2 of the most game-filled areas of public land
  • Network extending over 10 administrative regions in Québec
  • Clientele is 95% Quebecers
  • Main activities, one-day or with standard/luxury accommodations:
    Fishing
    Hunting
    Vacation resort
    Outdoor activities (camping, canoe-camping, ski touring, etc.)
  • 500 cabins and rustic camping areas
  • Many campgrounds with services and over 1,100 rustic campsites
  • Around 10,000 km of rideable forest paths and trails leading to lakes, hunting grounds and other activity locations
  • Dozens of main office and services buildings, hundreds of boats and vehicles
  • 600 jobs, mostly local

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