Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service indicated that the available data showed no colonies of migratory birds in the vicinity of the project area. A colony can be defined as a group of birds that nest in a gregarious manner, have been returning to the same area for several years and build their nests close together. Several species of seabirds and herons, for instance, live in colonies. It also indicated that it found no species considered at risk under the Species at Risk Act, or wetlands. Wetlands are defined as land that is saturated in water long enough to be conducive to the wetland or aquatic processes characterized by poorly drained soil, hydrophilic vegetation and various forms of biological activity that are suited to a damp environment. Wetlands include bogs, marshes, swamps and shallow water, usually two metres or less, as defined in The Canadian Wetland Classification System, published by the Canadian Committee on Ecological Land Classification’s National Wetlands Working Group, 1987.
The data used by Environment Canada in providing this reply are the same as are used for any environmental impact assessment, i.e., one, data gathered by its employees during inventories, two, databases developed by Environment Canada or in partnership with other government agencies and non government organizations, and three, databases provided by other organizations that use volunteers and amateur ornithologists and that are supported financially by Environment Canada. Environment Canada is confident that these data sources provide reliable information for this environmental assessment.
In this case, Environment Canada scientists consulted the following information:
The Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec, Quebec natural heritage data centre: The centre's mission consists of gathering, storing, analyzing and distributing data on elements of biodiversity, in particular those elements, and occurrences thereof, with the greatest conservation value. Currently, the data management system contains more than 10,500 occurrences of various elements related mainly to threatened or vulnerable species, namely 375 vascular plants and 79 vertebrate animals. In the near future, certain groups of invertebrates, i.e., molluscs and insects, natural communities and animal assemblages will be added to the elements of biodiversity already being tracked. This information is updated annually.
The Étude des populations d’oiseaux du Québec, population studies of Quebec’s birds, database: The population studies of Quebec’s birds database contains an electronic version of recorded daily bird sightings in Quebec. For more than 50 years, several Quebec ornithologists have systematically recorded their daily observations on these records. To date, there is a bank of more than 450,000 records of daily bird watching outings, containing more than 6,300,000 sightings. This information is updated annually.
Endangered birds in Quebec: The work performed by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, Quebec department of natural resources and wildlife, and the Canadian Wildlife Service’s Regroupement Québec Oiseaux has resulted in a new list of species deemed to be at risk in Quebec. This project also includes a database, SOS-POP, on the location of the various species. This information is updated annually.
Black Duck Joint Venture: This program provides data for tracking changes in the number of nesting black ducks using an annual inventory in the species’ primary nesting area. Although it was developed to optimize the counting of black ducks, this aerial inventory also provides trends regarding numbers and estimates of populations of other wildlife species nesting in the boreal forest. This information was updated in 2005 in the sector in question.
Conservation Atlas of Wetlands in the St. Lawrence Valley: The primary objective of the atlas is to provide an overview of wetlands in the St. Lawrence Valley using innovative methods for mapping the area in order to promote the conservation of birds and biodiversity, particularly by helping managers in their decision making regarding the use of land and the conservation of natural environments. This information was last updated five years ago.
The aquatic birds of the St. Lawrence: This information base provides an overview of the distribution, status and trends of the populations of seabirds and certain colonial aquatic birds nesting in Quebec. It must be noted, however, that the information available is much more comprehensive for seabirds in the St. Lawrence estuary and the Gulf. This information is about three years old for the sector in question.
Biodiversity Portrait of the St. Lawrence: The portrait provides land planners with detailed information regarding the habitats and biota of sites requiring urgent or priority conservation, restoration or protection. It allows the biologists responsible for evaluating the environmental impacts of development to make more informed recommendations earlier regarding biodiversity in the Quebec portion of the St. Lawrence. This information is about 10 years old.