Quebec Premier Jean Charest has promised to boost the number of protected areas in the province's north.

Charest says 20 per cent of the land included in the government's northern development plan will be protected from any development by 2020.

That's up from the 12 per cent announced earlier.

The Plan Nord was originally announced last May and aims for a variety of mining, forestry, hydroelectric and tourism projects spread over a huge stretch of Quebec's north.

In all, Charest says the goal is for half the area to be protected from major industrial development.

Charest has taken heat from some environmental and First Nations group over the scope of the project.