First release of the land accounts for Southern Québec

Québec, October 11, 2017. – Between the 1990s and the 2000s, artificial surfaces in Southern Québec gained more than 500 km² at the expense of agricultural land and forests, an increase of about 8% over that period, or of 0.6% per year. These changes vary from one administrative region to another. These findings come from new land account data for Southern Québec published today on the website of the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

Based on international environmental accounting standards, the land accounts measure land area by land cover type (artificial surfaces, agricultural land, wetlands or forests) and the area where land cover changes occur over a given period of time. For example, the area of agricultural land declined by nearly 1,000 km² between the 1990s and the 2000s (-4%). Agricultural land was essentially replaced by forests and artificial surfaces.

Gains in artificial surfaces in all Southern Québec regions

It is in the Laval administrative region that the area of artificial surfaces increased the most (+18% between 1994 and 20071). It also rose significantly in the regions of Centre-du-Québec (+12% between 1991 and 2006), Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (+11% between 1995 and 2008), Outaouais (+11% between 1990 and 2003), Lanaudière (+11% between 1995 and 2008), Laurentides (+11% between 1991 and 2005), and Montérégie (+10% between 1994 and 2009). Between 1994 and 2007, the area of agricultural land declined by 1.4% per year in favour of artificial surfaces in the regions of Montréal and Laval.

Towards an environmental accounting system

The land accounts for Southern Québec are the first component of Québec’s environmental accounts, an integrated economic and environmental system for measuring natural capital. Environmental accounts produce indicators and analyses that can provide insight on multi-sectoral issues such as the promotion of sustainable development and the green economy, as well as sustainable land use planning.

1. The reference period varies from one administrative region to another based on data availability.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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