The Quebec government has cancelled a controversial plan to log forests along the Péribonka River, north of Lac Saint-Jean.
But that doesn't mean the entire forest, much of it old-growth, will be untouched in the future. The province's forest ministry will talk with local stakeholders to decide which portion of the territory should be preserved.
"Today's announcement gives us the opportunity to take stock of the use of our forest in this magnificent region," said the minister of forests, wildlife and parks, Pierre Dufour, in a statement Tuesday.
The Péribonka River cuts through a valley in Quebec that is home to old yellow birch, woodland caribou and bald eagles.
It has been heavily logged for years, but over the last decade, activists and politicians have been trying to get the Quebec government to protect an 80-kilometre stretch of forest along the river.
Environment Minister Benoit Charette said on Tuesday that some of the territory will be protected, but it won't be put under a glass cloche.
Charette said the aim is ensure the region benefits from having such a forest and "that all of Quebec can benefit as well, because it is a remarkable sector."
Even though the land won't be completely preserved, members of a local environmental advocacy group were pleased by Tuesday's announcement.
The Comité de sauvegarde de la rivière Péribonka has long been fighting the logging plans.
"There are old-growth forests. There are also extraordinary landscapes," said committee member Thérèse Gagnon.
"There are endangered species such as the bald eagle and the woodland caribou. It is truly a unique corridor in Quebec to protect. There are no more corridors like that in Quebec."
Activists are now demanding that the sector be granted strict and lasting protected status.
Parti Québécois MNA Sylvain Gaudreault said the government has made the right decision in the face of so much opposition. He said he was surprised by the sudden announcement, but he welcomes the move.
The member for Québec solidaire responsible for the environment file, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, commended the citizen-led effort to preserve the land.
"These people are fighting with incredible tenacity for the sole reason of protecting the land," Lessard-Therrien said.
"We are delighted with this news, but we still remain vigilant so that the spirit of the protected area is respected and that we do not end up with a protected area that is smaller than expected."