Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Green groups: government moving too slowly on protecting Canada’s Great Bear rainforest

February 8, 2012

Three environmental groups have submitted a letter to British Columbia Premier, Christy Clark, to ask the government to speed up the process of implementing the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, which is meant to ensure 70 percent of old-growth forest is maintained.

“For the communities of the Great Bear Rainforest, a healthy economy depends on a healthy forest,” Valerie Langer, Senior Campaigner with ForestEthics, said in a press release. “British Columbians need the province to show leadership by following through on their commitments to protecting the forest and improving the lives of the people in the region.” Forestethics, along with Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, authored the letter.

Currently half of the old-growth forest is protected, but the groups say the government is lagging on designating the final 20 percent.

“The science is very clear that we need to protect about 70 per cent of the natural level of old-growth forest if we want to save the Great Bear Rainforest from inevitable decline,” said Eduardo Sousa, Senior Forests Campaigner with Greenpeace.

A government spokesperson responded that while they “support a quicker timeline” they must take into account other parties in the agreement.

“In March 2009, all parties agreed to a five-year implementation plan, so all parties, including Coastal First Nations and Nanwakolas Tribal Council would need to endorse an accelerated timeline,” the statement reads.

Although the agreement was set to be fulfilled by 2014, green groups would like to see it finished by next year before elections.

The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement was reached in 2006 between environmental groups, logging companies, indigenous people, and the Canadian government. The largest temperate rainforest in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest spreads over 16 million acres, and is home to the Kermode bear (Ursus americanus kermodei) a subspecies of black bear that occasionally sports all-white coats.

In addition to logging, activists are fighting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project in the forest. Supported by the Canadian government, the project would build two industrial pipelines through the forest to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to its western coast for export to China. The scheme would also bring oil tankers to the pristine rainforest coastline. Last week over a thousand people rallied against the pipeline in the port town of Prince Rupert, which has a population of just under 13,000.