The Bas-Saint-Laurent region has a population of 205,000 people living in 117 towns and municipalities grouped into eight regional county municipalities:
- Les Basques;
- La Matapédia;
- La Mitis;
The region is bounded by the St. Lawrence to the north, and by Maine and New Brunswick to the south. It stretches 320 kilometres from west to east, from La Pocatière to Les Méchins.
The region’s natural resources are found close to the areas of human settlement, a proximity that determines the daily management of the land and its resources. The decision-makers in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region have made a constant effort to reconcile various land uses, whether existing or potential, and have produced a regional plan for public land development. The plan was defined with input from various regional stakeholders.
The region has strong potential for clean, renewable energy production in the form of wind energy. The wind generation industry is already well established, and the region is home to several factories specializing in the fabrication of wind turbine components.
Several dynamic companies have made the Bas-Saint-Laurent region a world leader in the extraction and processing of peat moss. Since 2002, the gouvernement du Québec has recognized peat moss valorisation as one of the region’s niches of excellence. This industrial activity is expected to grow over the next few years thanks to its innovative technologies and range of products.
Although 50% of the forests in the region are under private ownership, the Bas-Saint-Laurent region still has public-owned forests with strong industrial potential. In contrast to other timber-producing regions, most of the wood harvested is processed by small family firms. Overall, the processing capacity exceeds the volume of timber available, and for this reason the industry is currently restructuring.
The region’s forests have seen extensive forest management work over the last 30 years. Today they constitute some of the best-managed forests in Québec and have all the necessary characteristics needed to support the forestry industry in coming years.
The Bas-Saint-Laurent region is home to a wide variety of wildlife species, some of which are classified as threatened or vulnerable species, including the rainbow smelt in the southern part of the estuary, the wood turtle, the bald eagle and the golden eagle. The region is also known for its outstanding salmon rivers, including the Matapédia and Matane rivers, both internationally recognized. The estuary contains various species of fish, some commercially fished, such as the Atlantic sturgeon and American eel. Moose hunting also generates some economic activity, and is expected to develop in coming years, especially in the region’s wildlife zones.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
Public land in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region is widely used for recreation and tourism, both by residents of the region and visitors from throughout Québec. Recreational trails are especially popular with snowmobilers, quad-bikers, cyclists and hikers, and the network of trails is relatively well developed. To protect lakes, fish habitat and landscapes in the region, the Department is currently planning cottage developments set back from lakeshores and riverbanks.
The Bas-Saint-Laurent region is one of the Québec regions with the strongest potential for natural resource development. To ensure the sustainable development of all resources in the region, the authorities intend to make the harmonization of land uses and cooperation between all stakeholders a regional priority.