Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Diverse Interests Reach Consensus on Land-use Recommendations for B.C.‘s Central Coast

January 13, 2004

Agreement on Substantial Protection and New Management Standards

(Vancouver, BC) – The Central Coast Land and Resource Management Planning (CCLRMP) table, consisting of representatives from communities, labour, environmental groups, tourism, forest companies and recreation interests, has reached an unprecedented consensus on land-use recommendations for B.C.‘s Central Coast.

The Central Coast, part of the region known as the Great Bear Rainforest, has been the focus of high-profile environmental campaigns over the past 10 years. Plagued with an unstable economy and high unemployment rates, the central coast has been hit hard by a series of economic downturns including declines in the commercial fishing industry, mill shutdowns, and impacts of the softwood lumber dispute. The recommendations made by the planning table recognize the global significance of the region’s temperate rainforests, while striving to also address local community and economic needs. Stakeholders recommended protection of over one million hectares of the region and the adoption of a new approach to managing economic development on the land called Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM).

Patricia McKim, Northern Communities Economic Development officer, asserts, “The consensus that the table is putting forward could help bring about long-awaited stability to communities in the plan area. We sincerely hope these recommendations will be given serious consideration by the Provincial and First Nation governments.”

“The consensus has also created a new alliance,” stated Larry Pepper, Mayor of Port Alice. “We look forward to working constructively and creatively with a very diverse group in order to address the pressing economic needs of coastal communities in a new and sustainable way.”

“This citizen’s consensus is a remarkable step forward for all parties. It lays the groundwork for peace in the woods, certainty in the marketplace and sustainability for communities. But it is only another step on the road to change and a huge amount of work remains to be done,” said Catherine Stewart, Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

“The recommendation to protect at least one third of B.C.‘s Central Coast rainforests will attract international interest as well as international investment to support a new type of economy based on conservation in the Central Coast region. This is a truly unique opportunity for British Columbia, and one that could ensure long term ecological and community success,” stated Merran Smith, ForestEthics’ BC Coast Campaign Director.

“Adopting an ecosystem-based approach to managing the land is a significant breakthrough for communities as well as for sustaining biodiversity outside of the protection areas,” said Lisa Matthaus, Coast Campaign Coordinator with the Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter. “However, there is a lot to do to ensure these innovations actually hit the ground. That will be the real measure of success in Ecosystem-Based Management.”

Although considered a major milestone towards a lasting resolution for B.C.‘s coastal rainforests, this agreement is only a recommendation to governments and not a final decision. As well, the North Coast and Haida Gwaii planning tables are still in progress, so the future of the Great Bear Rainforest region as a whole remains unknown.

Members of the planning table fully supported recommendations to diversify, strengthen, and stabilize the coastal economy.

Darol Smith of the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada (IWA) Local 2171, affirmed the confidence at the table: “The consensus around protection and ecosystem-based management opens the door to new sources of investment in the coastal economy. Our members welcome this economic opportunity and will be working hard to ensure it translates into jobs and benefits for coastal workers.”

The recommendation of the CCLRMP will now move to the provincial and First Nations governments for negotiation and decision, slated to finish in June, 2004.