Protected areas are lands and waters that are recognized, dedicated and managed, in law or through other effective means, to ensure the long-term protection and maintenance of natural and cultural values. Most protected areas are places where no industrial development (commercial forestry, mining, and hydroelectricity) is allowed.
Crees can practice their traditional activities in protected areas because Crees rights to hunt, fish and trap come above all protected areas laws.
The two most common types of protected areas found in Eeyou Istchee are Quebec National Parks and Biodiversity Reserves.
A Québec National Park is established to protect the area from industrial development and for tourism. Cree harvesting activities are allowed in a Quebec National Park. Sport fishing by tourists is allowed, but sport hunting by tourists is forbidden.
Biodiversity reserves are created to provide protection against industrial development. They are not established for tourism. Cree harvesting activities are allowed in Biodiversity Reserves. Sport hunting, fishing and outfitting by non-Crees is also allowed.