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protected area categories

The protected areas in Quebec are classified taking into account the six management categories proposed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 1994 (this in reference to the Natural Heritage Conservation Act). These management categories are as follows :


Categorie Ia A protected area managed mainly for science and nature protection

  • Terrestrial or marine area , including ecosystems, geological or physiographic elements or outstanding or representative species, administered mainly for scientific research and environmental monitoring . Example in Québec : ecological reserve status.

Categorie Ib A protected area managed mainly for wilderness protection

  • Vast land and sea space, unmodified or slightly modified, retaining its natural character, without permanent or significant habitation, which is protected and managed in order to preserve its natural condition. Example in Québec : none.

Categorie II A protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation purposes

  • Natural area of ​​land or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations; (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation; (c) provide opportunities for scientific, educational, spiritual, recreational or tourism visits, while respecting the natural environment and culture of the locals. Example in Québec : Québec National Park status.

Categorie III A protected area managed mainly for the conservation of specific natural features

  • Area containing one or more specific natural or natural and cultural features of outstanding or unique value, deserving to be protected because of its rarity, representativeness, aesthetic qualities or its intrinsic cultural importance. Example in Québec : statuses of biodiversity, aquatic reserve and frequently, of migratory bird sanctuary.

Categorie IV A protected area managed mainly for conservation through its development

  • Area of ​​land or sea subject to active intervention on its management, in order to ensure the maintenance of habitats or to meet the requirements of specific species. Example in Québec : containment area of the deer under the Wildlife Habitats Regulations.

Categorie V A protected area managed mainly to ensure the conservation of landscapes or seascapes and recreation purposes

  • Land area sometimes encompassing the coast and the sea, where the landscape has special aesthetic, ecological and cultural qualities, resulting from the old interaction of man and nature, and often with high biological diversity. Maintaining the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area. Example in Québec : none.

Categorie VI A protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems

  • Area containing natural systems, predominantly unmodified, managed to ensure the protection and long-term maintenance of biological diversity, while ensuring the sustainabity of natural functions and products necessary to the well-being of the community. Example in Québec : aquatic bird concentration area under the Wildlife Habitats Regulations, sometimes a wildlife refuge, sometimes a National Wildlife Area.


To be eligible for the Register of Protected Areas in Québec, a designation and territory must meet the following requirements : be consistent with the definition of a protected area of IUCN (1994) or NHCA; meet the selection criteria for a category defined by IUCN in its Guidelines for the management categories of protected areas.

Catégorie III
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