The Gouvernement du Québec approved the designation of the Réserve de territoire aux fins d’aire protégée de la Rivière-Arnaud, following the submission in the fall of 2020 of a joint brief from the Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks. The legally protected status contemplated for this territory is that of a “biodiversity reserve,” which is governed by the Natural Heritage Conservation Act.
The Réserve de territoire aux fins d’aire protégée de la Rivière-Arnaud is adjacent to the Category I lands of the community of Kangirsuk, as defined by the land regime established by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). The Arnaud River, a major tributary of Ungava Bay, is located in the heart of this territory. During the consultation of Inuit communities carried out in 2011 and 2012, the communites of Kangirsuk and Quaqtaq identified this territory as an essential subsistence area and an area of traditional use. The Arnaud River is one of the few large rivers in Arctic Québec with a high density of Arctic char, an essential food resource for Inuit communities. The territory also intersects with part of the Rivière-aux-Feuilles migratory caribou calving grounds. It marks the northernmost distribution limit of alders, black spruce, and other boreal species, which reflects an abundant biodiversity for such a high latitude. Two outfitters are partly present in the territory, which attests to its tourism potential.
No natural resource exploration or exploitation activity (mining, energy and forests) is allowed in the territory of the territorial reserve for protected area purposes. The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks will ensure the maintenance of the administrative and legal provisions that their prohibition requires.