ᑲᑎᕕᒃ ᐊᕙᑎᓕᕆᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᔪᖀᒋᐊᕐᑏᑦ ᑲᑎᒪᔩᑦ
Comité consultatif de l’environnement Kativik
Kativik Environmental Advisory Committee
In 2010, a new plant species was discovered in Nunavik – the Puvirnituq Mountain Draba (Draba puvirnituqii). At first glance you probably would not think much of this small white flowered plant, or even notice it, but this variety of Mountain Draba is only found in Nunavik and nowhere else on the planet. To be more precise there are only an estimated 25 plants in the world, and it is only found in one area measuring 13 km2 near the Deception River, 16 kilometres east of Purtuniq (Asbestos Hill).
The main reason why it’s so rare is due to where it grows. Puvirnituq Mountain Draba occurs only on oxidized peridotite rubble. Peridotite itself is a particularly rare mineral on the earth’s surface but is found mainly in the upper part of its mantle. It is a mineral with very high iron and magnesium content which is why oxidized peridotite has a bright orange color. Oxidized peridotite is also very alkaline which makes it toxic and inhospitable to most plant species but not Puvirnituq Mountain Draba which is specially adapted to grow on it.
Following its discovery, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) determined that Puvirnituq Mountain Draba would receive the status “special concern” in 2019 due to its uniqueness and extreme rarity. However, this designation does not ensure its conservation, which is why the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) recently made the decision to add it to the newly tabled list of plant species protected under the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species.
At present, it is estimated that only around 25 individual plants exist. More might be discovered in the future but until then, protecting this exceptionally rare plant is a priority. This is why the Kativik Environmental Advisory Committee would like to bring the MELCC’s recent initiative to protect the Puvirnituq Mountain Draba to your attention.