2002 Research Grant Recipient - Hubert Pelletier-Gilbert
IN QUEBEC’S EASTERN TOWNSHIPS, volunteers are aiming to protect a
40,500-hectare tract of the Sutton Mountains. It is a lofty undertaking, but
what makes their task more formidable is that 95 percent of the area, about an
hour’s drive southeast of Montréal, is privately owned.
Hubert Pelletier-Gilbert, a recent geography graduate from McGill University, spent part
of last summer in the region exploring the issue of conservation on private property, focusing
on the efforts of the Appalachian Corridor Project.
"In Quebec, there has been very little effort to preserve biodiversity on private lands," says
the 26-year-old native of Beaumont, Que., who was awarded a grant from The Royal Canadian
Geographical Society for his study.
The Sutton Mountains massif, an extension of Vermont’s Green Mountains, is zoned for
development, selective logging and agriculture. Still largely undivided by roads, the mountains’ lush
forests and bordering fields form a vital corridor for wildlife such as birds of prey. In
recent years, a few rare bobcats have been sighted here.
So far, the Appalachian Corridor Project has protected 900 hectares of private land, but
the group’s main hurdle, says Pelletier-Gilbert, is to convince many more landowners
that this is worthwhile.
Such challenges haven’t, however, discouraged the young geographer from embarking
on a conservation project of his own. He is now working to preserve a 15-hectare private
forest on the outskirts of his hometown.
— Monique Roy-Sole