Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area Management Plan

Executive summary

The Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area is an archipelago that extends about five kilometres in the Lake Saint-Louis, a natural widening of the St. Lawrence River situated southwest of Montréal, in a highly urbanized and industrialized region. These islands are located next to the St. Lawrence Seaway, one of the most important navigable waterways in North America. Created in 1977 by Environment Canada, this National Wildlife Area (NWA) aims to protect important waterfowl breeding habitats and a popular staging area for migratory birds.

This 120-hectare protected area is an archipelago consisting of low islands surrounded by beaches and wetlands and covered by open environments and sparse stands of Silver Maple. Despite its small area, the NWA supports a diversity of habitats that are used by close to 130 species of birds. They provide nesting sites for dozens of breeding pairs of ducks, as well as food and refuge for close to 5 000 ducks during the spring migration and close to 30 000 ducks during the fall migration. The NWA is home to over 150 animal species and over 50 plant species, some of which are species at risk.

A number of birds use the Îles de la Paix during the breeding period. The Black Duck, the Mallard, the Blue-winged Teal, the Green-winged Teal and the Northern Pintail nest along the edge of the islands and sometimes, when water levels are high, in the forks of trees. Dead trees on the islands provide breeding habitat for the Tree Swallow. The Black Tern forms large colonies in the islands’ marshes. A few mammals also use the area, among them the Muskrat, which frequent the islands’ shores and cattail marshes, the Beaver, the American Mink and sometimes, in winter, the Coyote and the Red Fox.

The NWA faces major threats and management challenges associated, among other things, with its proximity to a large urban area and current and past human activities. The main threats are shoreline erosion, the impact of human activities on the NWA and the invasion by plant species. Other threats and challenges to the management of the reserve include hunting and poaching, scientific knowledge gaps, Lake Saint-Louis contaminated sediments, and accidental spills.

Given the sensitive nature of the wildlife species and habitats on the islands, access and practice of activities in the Îles de la Paix NWA are prohibited, except under the authority of a permit issued by the Minister. A permit can be issued for scientific activities aligned with the priorities set out in the management plan, such as surveys, and habitat enhancement works or restoration.

The goals of the management plan are to: 1) reduce the impacts of human activities on the NWA; 2) protect and enhance significant habitats for species at risk, priority bird species, and other wildlife species; 3) reduce the effects of shoreline erosion; 4) ensure ecological monitoring of the NWA and improve knowledge on wildlife species and their habitats.

The plan is developed over a 10-year horizon and will be implemented as human and financial resources allow.

For greater certainty, nothing in this management plan shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

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