CONSERVATION, EDUCATION & RESEARCH
The conservation of the Lower St. Lawrence islands: a priority
Just before reaching the gulf, the St. Lawrence estuary is dotted with islands with rather evocative names: Île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), Les Pèlerins (Pilgrim Islands) and Îles du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie (Brandy Pot Islands). Except for lighthouse keepers and a few hardy settlers, these islands have remained uninhabited. Left to birds and seals, they have retained their wild and fascinating character that Duvetnor contributes to protect.
Les Pèlerins Archipelago
Les Pèlerins Archipelago forms a string of five stark and massive islands stretches over 7.5 km (4.5 miles). They are home of a large colony of Razorbills and Common Murres. Duvetnor owns the islands du Milieu and du Jardin and manage the other three (Long, Gros, and Petit Pèlerin) for Nature Conservancy Canada. The entire archipelago is a preservation zone, and public access is forbidden. However, it is possible to go and watch the birds during one of Duvetnor sea cruises.
Île aux Lièvres
With its 13-km (8-miles) length, Île aux Lièvres offers unique lookouts on the Charlevoix rolling hills, the St. Lawrence River and the estuary. Thousands of Common Eiders feed along the shores and Minke whales often forage along the north shore of the island. The Quebec Government established Île aux Lièvres as a proposed Biodiversity Reserve in 2013 and mandated Duvetnor to manage the area. Fourty kilometers (25 miles) of marked hiking trails allow to discover the island during a day trip or during a prolonged stay in cottages, at the Auberge or while camping.
Îles du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie
The three islands of the Îles du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie archipelago support important colonies of marine birds. Duvetnor owns the Petit and Gros Pot as well as the portion of Pot du Phare where a lighthouse has been restored by Duvetnor and transformed into an inn. The other portion of the Pot du Phare is part of the Îles de l’Estuaire National Wildlife Area of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The interpretation activities of Duvetnor : an exemple of ecotourism
Duvetnor has been at the forefront to integrate rigorous principles of ecotourism in its interpretation program of the Lower St. Lawrence islands. As early as 1995, the administrators aimed at raising public awareness to conservation of wildlife and the human heritage found on the islands. Based on sustainable development principles, the activities of Duvetnor generate socio-economic benefits for the local and regional communities.
Scientific research to help conservation
Preserving and managing the natural areas of the Lower St. Lawrence islands require an in depth knowledge of the wildlife and its habitats. The expertise of Duvetnor administrators, many of whom are biologists and renowned researchers, is often put to contribution to conduct research projects or to prepare management plans.
The annual nest survey of Common eiders conducted since 1984 as part of the down harvest operations provides a unique monitoring of the population. Wildlife technicians also join the down harvest crew to capture and band eider females to estimate various demographic parameters. The knowledge gathered by Duvetnor over the years is shared with biologists of neighbouring provinces and states and has been used to prepare the first Québec Management Plan for the Common Eider and a manual entitled Eiderdown – Characteristics and Harvesting Procedures