These tools will enable them to identify areas of interest where conservation needs require the maintenance of biodiversity and functional ecosystems: one concerns the St. Lawrence lowlands (STLL), while the other focuses on the coastal habitats of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. In each of these atlases, the areas of interest were selected to achieve specific conservation objectives based on the presence of specific elements (species at risk, protected areas, exceptional forest ecosystems, etc.) or because of characteristics specific to the sites (e.g., area).
The conservation targets chosen for the Atlas of Priority Sites for Conservation in the St. Lawrence Lowlands are woodlands, wetlands, open habitats (old fields, perennial crops) and aquatic environments. To these are added other elements of importance for biodiversity, such as spawning sites, alvars and bird colonies. In the Atlas of Sites of Conservation Interest in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Regions, the ecosystems targeted are forested areas, inland wetlands, coastal marshes and sandy environments. Added to these are local sites, such as bird colonies.
Both atlases form a database that can be accessed by the public. The conservation strategies that are currently being developed are based on these data to determine what actions are a priority to maintain the quality of biodiversity and ecosystems in these areas. These are also tools to assist with land-use planning that will be useful, for example, for preparing regional wetlands and hydric plans now that the Quebec Wetlands and Water Conservation Act has come into force.