Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Kermode-bear champion fears resumption of central-coast logging: Forest firms say nothing is planned

June 25, 2003

Environmentalists are concerned that logging could resume on the B.C. central coast next month, threatening the habitat of the endangered kermode, or white spirit, bear.

Pop star and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, and U.S. environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have joined the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition in making an 11th-hour plea to Victoria to save the bear, a rare white subspecies of the black bear, which lives only on the B.C. coast.

On April 4, 2001, a deal was struck among the then NDP government, forest companies, First Nations and environmental groups to preserve large sections of the central coast.

The deal, which has yet to be made law by the current Liberal government, called for 603,000 hectares, or 13 per cent of the total area landbase, to be protected. In addition, a moratorium on logging another 537,000 hectares was announced pending study by a committee of scientists.

However, the moratorium is due to end June 30, despite the fact that the land-use assessment is still incomplete, and Spirit Bear Youth Coalition director Simon Jackson says the government has not given any indication that logging will not resume on July 1.

“The government hasn’t engaged the public in this debate, and now [Minister of Sustainable Resource Management] Stan Hagen is waffling on whether to extend the moratorium with no debate on what should happen,” Jackson said Tuesday.

“This is getting me very concerned, and makes me wonder how committed the government is to finding a resolution to this issue.”

Ministry spokesman Graham Currie said no decision has been taken on the moratorium, but that one is expected before the end of the month.

“We’ll have more to say about this shortly,” he said.

He added that regardless of what the government decides, some stakeholders in the area have announced that they will not resume logging in the area until the land-use agreement is complete.

International Forest Products spokesman Steve Crombie confirmed that, saying his company would not conduct any logging until an assessment is finished.

“We’re going to continue [the moratorium] until the land-use planning process comes to an end and some final decisions are made.”

Sarah Goodman, a spokeswoman for Weyerhaeuser, said her company had made the same decision.

“We’ve all invested several years into this process and we want to see it through it to completion,” she said. “We’re not going to begin logging until we get an agreement.”

But Jackson says even if some forestry companies agree voluntarily to uphold a moratorium, there is no guarantee that mining companies and/or First Nations won’t start exploiting the area. Thus, he says, a government-imposed moratorium continues to be crucial.

A Compas poll done in February 2001 found that 83 per cent of British Columbians supported protecting the habitat of the kermode bear.