Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Canada acts to protect rainforest

January 22, 2007

Canada has pledged to spend millions of dollars to help protect the world’s largest temperate rainforest.

The government will allocate CAN$30m (US$26m, £13m) to maintain the area of British Columbia known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

The area is home to indigenous people, ancient trees and rare wildlife.

The 64,000 sq km (25,000 sq mile) forest is about twice the size of Belgium and spans the Pacific Coast from Vancouver Island north to Alaska.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said voters do not believe his Conservative government has focused enough on environmental issues since coming to power.

The federal cash will be matched by money from the government of British Columbia.

Another CAN$60m (US$51m, £26m) is being given by international donors, mainly from within the US.

The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the world’s oldest and most pristine forest environments.

Squeezed between the north-east Pacific coast and the mountains of British Columbia, the area boasts tall trees and rare wildlife.

Some of the trees in the forest are up to 90m (300ft) tall, and are about 1,500 years old, experts say.

Among the region’s native wildlife are cougars, wolves, salmon, grizzly bears, and the Kermode bear, a white subspecies of the black bear.

A deal struck in February 2006 agreement earmarked one-third of the land to protect wildlife in the region.

There have been frequent disputes in recent years between the lumber industry and environmental groups.

Announcing the new deal, Environment Minister John Baird said there was a “strong link between a healthy ecosystem, a healthy society and Canada’s economic prosperity”.