Thermal refuge: involvement of the private forestry sector
The Gespe’gewaq Mi’gmaq Resource Council (GMRC) and the Matapédia-Restigouche Watershed Organization (OBVMR) are observing the impact of their collaboration for the voluntary conservation project for thermal refuges. The two forestry organizations, the Groupement Coopératif Agro-Forestier de la Ristigouche (GCAFR) and the Société d’exploitation des Ressources de la Vallée (SERV), are committed and bear witness to their progress.
During the second phase of this project funded by the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (FCSA), the forestry partners got involved in the project. The involvement of forestry technicians during meetings with the owners of the lots was essential. The technicians prepared and located on their accompanying plans the watersheds of importance for the already-identified thermal refuges or identify others if necessary. Then, they invited forest owner members to sign voluntary conservation intent declarations included in forest management plans.
The river is fed by fresh water sources from wetlands, resurgences and tributaries connected to a watershed, of which we know the most important. They are thermal refuges for aquatic fauna, an essential element for salmon during summer low flows.
Forest technicians have been allies and are in action on the ground. Some of the owners have already signed declarations, with more to come in the coming weeks.
According to François Bélanger, forestry engineer at GCAFR: “The protection of natural resources is an important issue for the Group in its forestry practices. The voluntary declaration agreement will ultimately allow forest owners and the GCAFR to work together towards a common goal: state-of-the-art forest management that promotes and conserves forest and aquatic ecosystems.
Nathalie Arbour, head of SERV members' services, mentions that: "As soon as it affects the forest, it affects us, that's why we were sensitive to this request for collaboration."
Mapping and location of refuges carried out by the Restigouche River Watershed Management Board (CGBVRR) and the GMRC
Selection of 10 priority thermal refuges
Survey of owners and signatures of declarations of intent
Engagement of forestry organizations
Publish an interactive web page: www.conservationrefuge.com
Links to press releases on the subject.
Press release Thermal refuge June 17, 2020
Press release Protecting thermal refuges Jan 7, 2021
Thermal refuge. Source: OBVMR
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