Rainforest Solutions Project

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


New Report Shows Great Bear Rainforest a Safe Carbon Storehouse

March 3, 2009

(Vancouver, BC) – New information released today shows British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest not only stores massive amounts of carbon per hectare, it is also well positioned to withstand some of the effects of climate change because of its old growth forest and location.

The report, entitled Ecosystem-Based Management in the Great Bear Rainforest: ‘Defense for Climate and Species’ concludes that an ‘ecosystem based’ approach to logging in the Great Bear Rainforest would maintain old growth forest with approximately 108 million tons of carbon storage. Logging this forest under regular logging laws that apply elsewhere in the province would equate to carbon dioxide emissions three times the province’s annual carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

“This is the first time we can put into perspective how much carbon is stored in the Great Bear Rainforest and how much of it could be safely secured through lighter touch logging practices,” said Jens Wieting of the Sierra Club BC. His group, along with Greenpeace and ForestEthics, commissioned the report conducted by Dr. Rachel Holt, an independent biologist whose clients include the BC government, forestry industry and environmental organizations.

In 2006, the BC government committed to protect 2.1 million hectares (an area entirely off limits to logging) of the rainforest while calling for a new ‘lighter touch’ form of forestry, based on Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), throughout the rest of the region by March 31, 2009.

“This report underscores what is at stake, both for the health of the forest and reducing our carbon dioxide emissions. Now is the time for the government to finalize a new logging plan that stands the test of time,” said Valerie Langer of ForestEthics.

The report also found that implementing EBM in the Great Bear Rainforest would likely provide a key opportunity in North America to allow forest ecosystems to adapt to climate change without a major loss of species. The mostly intact old growth forest of the region combined with few natural disturbances like fire or insects makes the Great Bear Rainforest an ideal climate refuge for species.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is better positioned to handle the impacts of climate change than many other ecosystems,” said Stephanie Goodwin, Greenpeace Senior Forest Campaigner. “This opportunity won’t last long unless the BC government’s keeps its promise to make full Ecosystem-Based Management a reality on the ground.”

Read the report here: Defense for Climate and Species – EBM in the Great Bear Rainforest