Quebec wants better garlic harvesting laws

As wild garlic prepares to emerge from the ground, the Quebec government is reminding those who might be tempted to harvest it that this vulnerable plant is strongly regulated by law to ensure its preservation.

Intensive harvesting and the destruction of its habitat, particularly by agricultural activities and urban development, have greatly affected the plant’s survival, which is why the sale and harvesting of wild garlic for commercial purposes have been prohibited since 1995.

Harvesting for personal use is also restricted to a maximum of 200 grams, 50 bulbs or 50 plants per person, per year, in addition to being prohibited in protected natural environments, the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) said in a press releases.

Last year, the ministry tightened certain provisions of the Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species to punish offenders more severely. Violators now face fines ranging from $10,000 to $6 million or administrative monetary penalties of between $2,000 and $10,000.

“The craze for wild garlic led to overharvesting, which put pressure on the species,” said Environment Minister Benoit Charette. “Measures had to be put in place to prevent its disappearance. It is reassuring to see that these measures have had an impact and that wild garlic is still present in our natural environment.”

“It is essential to exploit and consume our natural resources responsibly. The conservation of wild garlic, a well-known and much-appreciated species in Quebec, is an eloquent example of this,” said Parks Minister André Lamontagne.

An omnibus regulation has eased the transplantation of wild garlic, which was previously prohibited in certain areas where the species was negatively affected.

Under the regulations, wild garlic plants that would be destroyed if not transplanted elsewhere may be moved if the transplanting is done by hand between May 15 and June 15 each year. In addition, if the transplanting involves 500 or more plants, the work must be supervised by a person with “expertise in ecology, forestry, horticulture or landscaping,” the law states, requiring a report of the activity to the minister within 30 days of the transplant.

The regulation will eventually be accompanied by a guide presenting the best practices for transplanting and thus saving this emblematic plant of Quebec.

MAPAQ points out that last year, more than 500 occurrences of wild garlic were documented in the province, particularly in the Eastern Townships and Montérégie.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 22, 2023.

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