Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Land-use agreement shows the way

May 11, 2007

Can lessons from British Columbia’s landmark land-use plan chart a greener course for Canadian forestry in the face of global warming and species loss?

On Wednesday night we joined with Premier Gordon Campbell, coastal first nations, fellow environmental groups Greenpeace and Sierra Club of Canada, B.C. Chapter, and logging companies in accepting a “Gift to the Earth” award, presented by the World Wildlife Fund.

The award honoured the Great Bear Rainforest agreement, a consensus-based conservation plan that bears the unmistakable mark of a newfound wisdom, made right here in B.C. — a conservation vision that will be fully realized by 2009.

And while we hope events like Wednesday’s award ceremony will export this new approach to land-use planning and forest practices around the globe, the reality is, its most pressing application is once again found in our own backyard.

Today, Canada holds 25 per cent of the world’s remaining intact forests, a legacy that comes with an international responsibility to conserve. These forests hold 84.4 billion tons of carbon, more than 10 times the entire world’s annual fossil fuel emissions. B.C.‘s forests account for 18 billion tons of that total. Significantly, our old-growth forests in places like the southern Interior, store up to 50 per cent more carbon than the “managed forests” that are planted after logging. These forests are home to numerous endangered species, including the Mountain Caribou — North America’s most endangered mammal.

Based on these factors, protecting B.C.‘s intact forests becomes an essential element of any national strategy for re-balancing our carbon budget and for helping our ecosystems adapt to the climate warming that is underway.

How can we integrate the needs of natural systems and the threat of global warming with the needs of those who depend on those systems for their livelihoods and way of life?

There are some basic first steps if we are to stave off the worst effects of global warming and species loss:

  • We need to modify logging practices to reduce our impact, using tools like FSC certification.
  • We need to reduce the amount we log and ensure greater conservation of our most important forests.
  • We need to support and transition forest-based communities to more sustainable and value-added forms of income.
  • We need to provide the rapidly greening investment community and marketplace with more certainty of our commitment to environmental responsibility.

With these basic steps undertaken in good faith, we can all breath a little easier about ecosystem health, and begin the heavy lifting required to produce land-use decisions across Canada of the calibre we now see in the Great Bear Rainforest.