Petition demands more protection for Boucher Forest

Thousands of signatures were added this week to an online petition demanding greater protections for the Boucher Forest in Aylmer, Que.

As of Friday more than 8,200 signatures had been added to the online form. The Boucher Forest Foundation is calling on Gatineau to slow down real estate and commercial development on the land.

"There are a lot of people who have been contacting us for the past few days. We have donations, we have questions," Marianne Strauss, director general of the Boucher Forest Foundation, told Radio-Canada in a French language interview.

"We would like 100 per cent of the [forest] protected for biodiversity."

The campaign was in part prompted by the Destination Vanier project which wants to build a new shopping centre in Gatineau's Plateau district. The project would mean felling trees adjacent to Vanier Road, which borders the Boucher Forest.

According to the Boucher Forest Foundation, unless lots are rezoned or purchased, real estate and commercial development could be possible in the forest starting in 2020.

The foundation wants lots rezoned to ensure the forest's long-term protection and for Gatineau to purchase all the remaining privately-held land.

The municipality already owns about 55 per cent of the Boucher Forest, another portion is owned by Quebec and the rest is privately held. Gatineau has plans to protect 75 per cent of the land in its new development plan.

The Boucher Forest, bordered by Highway 148, chemin Vanier and boulevard Wilfrid-Lavigne in north Aylmer, is the largest unprotected woodlot in Gatineau.