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2002 Research Grant Recipient - Hubert Pelletier-Gilbert

Saving Sutton
IN QUEBEC’S EASTERN TOWNSHIPS, volunteers are aiming to protect a 40,500-hectare tract of the Sutton Mountains. It is a lofty undertaking, but what makes their task more formidable is that 95 percent of the area, about an hour’s drive southeast of Montréal, is privately owned.

Hubert Pelletier-Gilbert, a recent geography graduate from McGill University, spent part of last summer in the region exploring the issue of conservation on private property, focusing on the efforts of the Appalachian Corridor Project.

"In Quebec, there has been very little effort to preserve biodiversity on private lands," says the 26-year-old native of Beaumont, Que., who was awarded a grant from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his study.

The Sutton Mountains massif, an extension of Vermont’s Green Mountains, is zoned for development, selective logging and agriculture. Still largely undivided by roads, the mountains’ lush forests and bordering fields form a vital corridor for wildlife such as birds of prey. In recent years, a few rare bobcats have been sighted here.

So far, the Appalachian Corridor Project has protected 900 hectares of private land, but the group’s main hurdle, says Pelletier-Gilbert, is to convince many more landowners that this is worthwhile.

Such challenges haven’t, however, discouraged the young geographer from embarking on a conservation project of his own. He is now working to preserve a 15-hectare private forest on the outskirts of his hometown.

Monique Roy-Sole

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