Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced $2.19 million in funding over the next three years to protect species at risk in the Northern Green Mountains natural area in southern Quebec.

After receiving $2.4 million between 2019 and 2023 for the first phase of the project, the Appalachian Corridor organization will receive $2.19 million over the next three years to "promote the protection and recovery of species at risk by reducing threats to them and improving their habitat in the Northern Green Mountains region."

Guilbeault was in Eastman, in the Eastern Townships, on Tuesday to make the announcement.

The Northern Green Mountains region is, "one of the largest relatively undisturbed temperate forests in the world," according to Guilbeault. It is home to 26 species at risk, including the Bicknell's thrush, the wood turtle, the spring salamander, the monarch butterfly and the butternut.

FILE - In this July 2005 file photo released by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, a Bicknell's thrush perches on East Mountain in East Haven, Vermont. The songbird that wings its way each year from austere mountaintops of the northeastern U.S. to the steamy forests of the Caribbean has inspired the creation of what conservationists hope will be a new model for nature reserves in the Dominican Republic, a country that has long struggled with deforestation.

"The plants and animals that live in the mountains here are a precious ecosystem for us," said the Minister, along with local MP Pascale St-Onge.

"These species benefit from one of the largest remaining areas of wilderness in southern Quebec, and we must protect them, not just for their sake, but for ours too," added St-Onge, who is also the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

"Managing an initiative such as the priority sites designated by the communities in the Green Mountains means being able to combine the strengths of the many partners in our region, with complementary angles of intervention and varied expertise, to maximize the impact on nature," said Mélanie Lelièvre, director general of Appalachian Corridor.

Wood turtle

"The Appalachian Corridor project will involve carrying out infrastructure work to reduce conflicts with wildlife (including species at risk) on a major level crossing and will provide opportunities to raise environmental awareness in the community," the government said in a news release.

The funding comes from the Community Designated Priority Places program, which aims to help towns and communities that are "working together" to ensure the recovery of species at risk.

Between 2019 and 2026, the Government of Canada will have invested $40.3 million in 18 community-designated priority sites, according to the Department of the Environment.

Butternut tree

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 5, 2023.