Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


B.C. stakeholders harvest kudos for rainforest deal

May 7, 2007

B.C. – Efforts to sustainably manage the Great Bear Rainforest have earned the province high kudos from the World Wildlife Fund.

Premier Gordon Campbell will be awarded a “Gift to the Earth” from the WWF Wednesday, following an international symposium on ways to manage the world’s ecologically sensitive forests.

The symposium, called Our Common Ground, is to be held at the University of B.C. May 7-9. It will highlight land-use lessons learned from the Great Bear Rainforest, Brazil’s Amazon Basin, Africa’s Congo Basin and Russia’s Komi Model Forest.

All four regions were chosen for resolving land and resource-use conflicts by working together or leading the way with new approaches.

The Great Bear Rainforest was the subject of a landmark agreement reached in 2006. Under the deal — negotiated by the B.C. government, first nations, forestry and environmental groups — almost 1.2 million hectares of land stretching along 400 kilometres of wild forest on B.C.‘s central coast will be developed into designated parkland, protected against logging and other development.

Chris Elliott, WWF vice-president, Pacific region, said each of the four groups will be recognized for working together, increasing the number of B.C. parks and securing a $120-million conservation fund for sustainable development.

The rainforest includes the largest tract of unprotected coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth. It is also home to grizzly bears, wolves, migratory birds and 20 per cent of the world’s wild salmon stocks.

“Some of the techniques used here were kind of cutting edge,” Elliott said. “Being green is important but there has to be some economic viability as well.”

About 200 government, industry, environmentalists and representatives from 19 different countries are expected to attend the symposium.

The meeting, a world first, will draw from nations’ common experiences such as how to manage conflicts and trade-offs; gain government and business support; provide opportunities for economic growth; and integrate the rights of indigenous peoples.

Countries such as China, Malaysia and Indonesia have also signed up for a pre-symposium workshop today to learn how to negotiate more sustainable development.

“If you develop too much you lose the value of the forest; if you don’t offer economic opportunities for people they stay in poverty,” Elliott said.

Jeff Sayer, senior associate WWF International, said the symposium’s goal is to give developing countries a way to reconcile global and national issues with employment needs.