Ninety-seven percent of the park is covered in forests, which are either boreal (i.e., predominantly conifer) or mixed-wood (i.e., a blend of hardwoods and conifers). A total of 639 vascular plant species can be found in park forests. The three main plant communities are: the balsam fir-yellow birch stand, sugar maple-yellow birch stand, and balsam fir-white birch stand. Forillon’s forests were considerably modified by human activities throughout the 20th century (e.g., logging, clearing, etc.) and major natural changes (e.g., diseases, epidemics, windfall, etc.). That is why a broad range of transition stages (e.g., fallow fields, immature forests, etc.) have come to characterize these areas today.
The park is home to about 45 species of Arctic-alpine plants, which are rare at this southerly latitude and low altitude. As a rule, these plants grow in the Canadian North or on the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in western Canada. During the retreat of the glaciers approximately 10,000 years ago, these plants took up residence on Forillon’s cliffs, which were unsuited for forests. As a result, Arctic-alpine plants were able to grow without being pushed out by more competitive species. In addition to the cliffs, the alpine meadows located at Cape Gaspé also serve as a habitat for several of these plants.
A particular kind of plant-life grows on the Penouille sand spit. There you will find a barren boreal forest (called a taiga) that is a remarkable occurrence for this low an altitude. Also, in the immediate vicinity, you will see upper beach plants that are adapted to the instability of dunes and the siliceous nature of sand.
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