August 23, 2004

Quebec, Domtar provide nearly $6M to help NCC acquire, conserve 40 km2 in the Sutton Mountains

The Quebec government is providing a financial assistance grant of nearly $2.9 million help Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) - Quebec region organization acquire 4,044 hectares (40 square kilometres (km2) or 10,000 acres) of land in the Sutton Mountains from Domtar. The transfer of Domtar land in southern Quebec will result in the protection of nearly two-thirds of the Sutton Mountains, or 15,000 acres (60 km2), making this the largest private protected natural area east of Alberta.

At the same time, Domtar president and CEO Raymond Royer announced the company's donation of just over $3.3 million toward the project, a major conservation initiative to ensure the preservation of a significant portion of this territory, which represents one of the last wild regions in southern Quebec and is a northward continuation of Vermont's Green Mountains. The protected territory also represents a continuation of the American Appalachian Trail, a 4,000-kilometre trail network, and of the Long Trail, which traces a 430-kilometre north-south route through Vermont. The Domtar property spans the Bolton Ouest, Potton and Sutton municipalities.

The government financial assistance comes out of the province's National Program for the Development of a Network of Private Protected Areas in Quebec. It will be used to pay 50% of the acquisition costs for the property. In addition to increasing the acreage of protected areas, the project will preserve large areas of life-sustaining forests for large animals, including the black bear and the bobcat. It will directly ensure the protection of wild leek colonies, a plant officially listed as vulnerable in Quebec, along with populations of pickerel frogs, spring salamanders and northern dusky salamanders. These three species are susceptible of being designated as threatened or vulnerable in Quebec.

The government funding was announced jointly by Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair, along with Pierre Paradis, MNA for Brome-Missisquoi and a former provincial Environment Minister.

Mulcair said the investment reflects the importance the Quebec government places on preserving biodiversity and protected areas. "Acquiring the 40 square kilometres of untouched nature in the Sutton Mountains represents one of the most remarkable public-private preservation efforts in Quebec. I wish to emphasize that this project could not have gone ahead without the co-operation of Domtar," he stated.

Premier Charest (himself a former federal Environment Minister) said the acquisition "represents a significant step forward in building a transboundary corridor for the discovery of nature and outdoor activities and for the establishment of a hiking trail to connect the Eastern Townships and Georgia through the Appalachian Trail. The Eastern Townships thus have the opportunity to implement an ecotourism model project for sustainable development," he noted.

The Sutton Mountains conservation initiative is part of a $10-million partnership agreement signed by NCC - QuÈbec and the provincial government in January 2002. NCC Quebec regional director Pierre Renaud observed that "this agreement represents the most eloquent example of private/public partnership ever achieved for conservation in Quebec." The province's protected areas program has allowed the financial participation of U.S. and Canadian foundations, notably Sweet Water Trust in Boston, the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology in Montreal, and the Weston Foundation in Toronto, all of which contributed to the success of this transaction.

This latest action by Domtar is one of many undertaken in recent years, in Canada and the United States. As one of the ten founding members of the Boreal Leadership Council, and through its participation in initiatives such as Ontario's Lands for Life program, Domtar is upholding its commitment to forest conservation and sustainable development practices. The company has also agreed to certify all its forests and mills according to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, the standard preferred by the most demanding environmental groups. Domtar manages according to internationally recognized standards 22 million acres of forestland in Canada and the U.S.

NCC has been operating in Quebec for more than 30 years, collaborating with landowners, private and public companies, conservation groups and government bodies to protect Quebec's natural heritage.

More information is available from Lynda Leith at Domtar, 514/848-5571, E-mail lynda.leith@domtar.com, or Kathleen Provost at NCC - Quebec, 514/876-1606, ext 225, E-mail kathleen.provost@conservationdelanature.ca.

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