Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Land-use plan unveiled for B.C. coastal region

February 7, 2006

(Vancouver, BC) – The B.C. government unveiled a plan Tuesday to protect ecologically sensitive forest on the central and northern coast.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the total protected areas under the land and resource management plan amount to 1.8 million hectares, more than three times the size of Prince Edward Island.

“The agreement reached on these areas represents an unprecedented collaboration between First Nations, industry, environmentalists, local governments and many other stakeholders in how we manage the vast richness of B.C.‘s coast for the benefit of all British Columbians,” said Campbell. “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.”

The agreement also gives First Nations a say in how resources in the 6.4-million-hectare region are managed.

The region has been at the centre of a campaign by environmentalists for a decade to protect thewilderness area from logging and mining, which included setting up blockades and calling for a boycott of forestry companies.

Campbell said the deal preserves from logging some of B.C.‘s most spectacular wilderness and protects habitat for a number of species, including the rare Spirit Bear.

He promised legislation will be introduced to establish sustainable logging practices in the rest of the region, often referred to by environmentalists as the Great Bear Rainforest. Full implementation is not expected until 2009.

A coalition of environmental groups backed the agreement.

“British Columbians are showing that it is possible to protect the environment and provide the economic foundation for healthy communities,” said Lisa Matthaus, coast campaign co-ordinator for the Sierra Club of Canada’s B.C. Chapter. “This innovative rainforest agreement provides a real world example of how people and wilderness can prosper together.”

The region is home to hundreds of species including grizzlies, black bears, the so-called spirit bear, wolves, cougars, mountain goats, moose and deer. The spirit bear is a rare white species and is also called the kermode bear.

“This agreement brings an end to the long-standing resource-use conflicts over this land,” said KNT First Nations chairman Dallas Smith. “Now our people have a more active role in how and where business is done in our traditional territories, and we can move toward cultural, ecological and economic stability in this region.”