The IBA slices through the Appalachian Mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Québec. The IBA encompasses two mountain ranges: Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle. Several of the peaks, e.g. the Mont Jacques-Cartier in the McGerrigle Mountains, are over 1000 metres which is a high elevation for eastern North America. The mountains are rugged and high enough to host one of the largest expanses of alpine tundra in eastern North America. A succession of forest ecosystems is found down the valley: sparser and more stunted coniferous growth around the highest peaks, coniferous forest areas, and hardwood stands at the base of the mountains. The IBA supports many lakes and streams, including Sainte-Anne River, Lake Cascapédia, Small Sainte-Anne Lake, and Isabelle stream. Private properties and four protected areas are found in whole or in part within the IBA territory (Gaspésie National Park, Fernald Ecological Reserve, Monts Chics-Chocs Wildlife Reserve and Matane Wildlife Reserve).
Bicknell's Thrushes are found in significant numbers during the breeding season. In June and July, they breed in small dense black spruce forests or regenerating balsam fir forests; two habitats found in the IBA. In 1999, in one small part of the IBA, researchers captured 35 Bicknell's Thrushes. Thus, at least one percent of the Canadian population of the species apparently nests here, and quite possible over 1% of the global population. The Bicknell's Thrush is designated as threatened in Canada and vulnerable in Québec. Other notable species include typical boreal forest birds such as Spruce Grouse, American three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Fox Sparrow, which are found in subalpine forest. The lakes of the IBA support several species of diving ducks, including Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, and Common Merganser. During the breeding season, Harlequin Ducks, a species of special concern in Canada, use the fast flowing areas of the Sainte-Anne River and the Cascapédia River. The IBA supports other species at risk: Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, and Common Nighthawk, three species designated as threatened in Canada, as well as Peregrine Falcon and Rusty Blackbird, which are considered to be of concern on a national basis.
The Gaspésie National Park was created in 1938. With the exception of sport fishing, exploitation and harvesting of natural resources are prohibited in the park since the enactment of the Parks Act in 1977. However, the IBA extends beyond the park boundaries where logging and mining operations are exerting pressures on wildlife habitats. The presence of didymo, an invasive species of algae, was confirmed in several salmon rivers of the Gaspésie, such as the Sainte-Anne River bordering a large part of the IBA. The spread of didymo affects invertebrates that live on the river beds or lake bottoms, thus damaging aquatic habitats. In fact, aquatic invertebrates are an important part of the diet of many diving ducks and fish species. Climate change may also lead to an altitudinal range extension for mountainous ecosystems, i.e. the colonization of the summits by tree and shrub species. Although there may be advantages for some bird species, this phenomenon is causing a decline in biodiversity in the IBA. Finally, the IBA supports the last remaining wild caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence, an emblematic species designated as threatened in Québec and endangered in Canada. The Gaspé caribou is a species associated with the high plateaus of the Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle Mountains and the softwood stands bordering the park. Human activities are leading to the isolation and confinement of the caribou population in and around the Gaspésie National Park. The main challenges for the protection of this species include the conservation and restoration of its habitat and the control of predators (bear and coyote). Unfortunately, the survival or recovery of the species cannot be guaranteed due to the inadequate size of the Gaspésie National Park and the Fernald Ecological Reserve.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
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