Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Canadian forest granted protection against logging

February 8, 2006

Years of talks between Canadian loggers and environmentalists have culminated in a plan to protect a vast natural reserve on the country’s Pacific coast. The accord, disclosed by the British Columbia Government, sets aside 1.8 million hectares of temperate rainforests along the province’s central and northern coast for wildlife.

The province’s Premier, Gordon Campbell, says some of the most spectacular ecologically diverse regions in the world will be preserved, including the home of the rare albino spirit bear.

The agreement to protect these lands, about half the size of Taiwan, from loggers and miners is part of a larger deal to better manage 6.4 million hectares of coastal forests between Alaska and the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

A half dozen forestry companies and a coalition of environmental groups, including Forest Ethics, Greenpeace, Sierra Club of Canada, agreed on new sustainable logging practices for the region to be implemented by 2009.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples will get more control over resources in their traditional lands and receive money from the province for economic development. “The result is a strong marriage that balances the needs of the environment with the need for sustainable jobs and a strong economic future for coastal communities,” Mr Campbell said.

However, it will result in more untouched wildlife habitat in harvest areas, fewer logging roads built, and less harm to local streams and rivers.

President of Western Forest Products, Reynold Hert, says the agreement was a tough process with many tensions.
“[But] the certainty of knowing where we can operate, the certainty of knowing what areas are permanently protected, and the certainty for our customers that we will continue to produce forest products from the coast, free from the market campaigns of the past is important,” he said.

Nearly a decade ago, environmentalists launched a massive campaign in Europe and the United States to boycott Canadian lumber cut in the Great Bear Rainforest, named after the mutant white bear worshiped by aboriginals and featured in a Hollywood film.

In December, environmental groups privately raised $1.57 million to purchase a commercial hunting license to stop the contentious grizzly bear hunt in the area. Wild creatures that live there include carnivores such as the grizzly and black bears, the Spirit Bear or Kermode bear, wolves and cougars.

There are also thousands of hoofed animals, including mountain goats, moose and deer.