On Tuesday, February 23, Jérôme Dupras spoke at the Éco-corridor Laurentiens conference on natural infrastructures to fight climate change. With the current climate and biodiversity crises, we take measure of human activity's impact on the environment. The world is now subject to global changes, which are pressure factors that disrupt human and natural environments; the most well-known being global warming and the erosion of biodiversity.
During the conference, Jérôme Dupras explained that five factors transform our relationship with nature: changes in land and sea use, the overexploitation of species, climate change, invasive species, and systemic pollution. Ecosystems provide us with a variety of benefits and services. Therefore, we must protect nature and develop a sustainable land-use plan. Today, the five biggest threats to humanity and the economy are environmental. The number of climate refugees exceeds the number of war refugees.
Jérôme Dupras highlighted the importance of examining the state of our landscapes and understanding the ecological, social and economic value of nature. We need to develop tools to increase resilience and offer solutions to address the underlying trends of climate change and the erosion of biodiversity. Natural infrastructures and ecological connectivity are the most promising solutions for the future, he explained. "Nature-based solutions are strategies developed by public and private organizations to protect, restore and manage natural and agricultural environments. They ensure the well-being of humans and maximize benefits for biodiversity", he says. These solutions include sustainable forestry, natural corridors, agro-environmental practices, citizen mobilization and reforestation.
"In the greater Montreal area, 80% of ecological connectivity has been lost since the 1960s because of urban sprawl. This has major impacts on biodiversity", he adds. Jérôme Dupras explains that ecological connectivity must be considered when developing sustainable land-use plans.
Ecological connectivity consolidates and connects ecological ecosystems. Jérôme Dupras shared with us a modeling tool developed by Eco2urb co-founder Andrew Gonzalez that allows us to identify essential corridors for biodiversity protection. For more information on this subject, follow this link: https://quebio.ca/connect/files/Rapport%20Final_140518_20181120.pdf
Furthermore, Jérôme Dupras insists that ecological corridors cannot be created just anywhere. Today, the new opportunity is agricultural coulées. "These are sloping areas near bodies of water, where the slope is too steep to cultivate, and they are basically abandoned. Nearly 50,000 hectares of these agricultural coulées could be transformed into ecological corridors", he explains. "Natural capital has a major impact on our quality of life. For the Greater Montreal area, they provide $2.2 billion in ecosystem services every year", he says. Harnessing the power of nature is an exceptional solution in the face of this unprecedented crisis. Finally, the health crisis we are experiencing has only increased social inequalities and conflicts. "This is what will also happen with climate change. It's the same song playing at different tempos", he adds. We must develop Québec in the right way, and fight global changes by promoting our natural infrastructure, by developing and restoring it," he concludes.