The Estrie region is located in the Appalachian mountain chain. It has a population of 300,000 and covers an area of 10,000 km2. The region is well known for its mountainous relief, natural landscapes and recreation and tourist attractions, and includes
- 130 lakes;
- three national parks;
- two wildlife management areas (ZECs);
- two ecological reserves.
The Estrie region is home to several non-traditional energy production initiatives. In addition to a few small hydroelectric power stations, the region has two biomass-fuelled power stations. Cogeneration based on the anaerobic fermentation of hog manure is a key focus of research in the region, along with cellulosic ethanol, for which an industrial research chair has been created at the Université de Sherbrooke. The region also has strong wind energy potential.
Mining in the Estrie region is essentially based on the extraction of asbestos, dolomitic marble, sand, gravel, and stone for crushing or architectural use such as granite and slate. These minerals are processed in the region to produce high-magnesium content fertilizers, gravestones, dimension stone and landscaping stone. The region also produces quicklime from limestone mined elsewhere in Québec.
Forestry and wood processing
Almost 76% of land in the Estrie region is covered by forests, mainly made up of mixed and hardwood stands. The biodiversity level is high, and there are 36 exceptional forest ecosystems. Around 91% of the forests are privately-owned, with 10,000 private woodlot owners. The forest products industry is similarly diverse. It includes pulp, paper and cardboard mills, sawmills, and facilities producing fibreboard, veneer and plywood, along with several plants in the field of secondary and tertiary processing.
The Estrie region is home to a wide range of wildlife. In addition to white-tailed deer and moose, which are abundant, the region has a growing population of wild turkeys, while its lakes and rivers contain fifteen species suitable for sports fishing.
Wildlife-related activities attract 100,000 visitors annually, over 40% for hunting and sports fishing, generating an economic benefit of $70 million for the region.
Because of changes to their habitat, some animal species in the region have been classified as threatened or vulnerable, including the wood turtle, channel darter, pickerel frog and woodland vole, a small rodent found only in the Estrie region.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
The Estrie region has huge recreation and tourism potential, in particular because of its hilly terrain, which constitutes an advantage for hiking and skiing.
Because of their range of activities and facilities, the national parks at Mont-Orford, Mont-Mégantic and Frontenac attract large numbers of outdoor enthusiasts. Pleasure boating is available on the region’s magnificent lakes, including the Saint-François, Memphrémagog, Massawippi and Mégantic lakes. The proximity of these attractions to the major urban centres of Montréal and Sherbrooke gives the region another strategic advantage.
The natural heritage of the Estrie region is protected under various measures adopted by the regional authorities. Priorities include protection for threatened species and the rehabilitation or development of wildlife habitats. The region also intends to develop its mineral potential.