Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Peace-in-the-woods deal imminent

March 17, 2001

Environmentalists, forest companies on verge of coastal logging pact

The so-called Great Bear Rainforest has been the focus of a successful marketing campaign that mostly targeted customers of B.C. forest products. This demonstration in Vancouver by Greenpeace members was typical of the campaign, with protesters donning bear suits to make their point.

B.C. forest companies and environmentalists are on the verge of an “historic” land-use agreement that would end anti-logging campaigns against companies harvesting timber on the central coast. Tzeporah Berman, who has been active in campaigns against forest companies since the 1993 Clayoquot Sound blockade, said Friday that once the agreement is ratified the successful eco-campaign could be over.

“If we are able to reach agreement with the companies then we will communicate to the marketplace support for this process, the agreement, and those companies’ actions,” said Berman, who is part of multi-stakeholder meetings now under way.

Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney, a long-time opponent of compromise with environmentalists, voiced support for the plan, along with other coastal mayors and native Indian leaders. “We may just have an acceptable land-use framework for all interests on the coast.”

The agreement, described as “historic” by Forests Minister Gordon Wilson and Campbell River Mayor Jim Lornie, would address protected areas, introduction of eco-logging and include cash from the provincial government to cover lost harvesting rights and potential job losses.

Outstanding issues include compensation for lost tenures and lost jobs, said Rick Jeffery, president of the Truck Loggers Association. “We think this is moving us one step closer toward resolution but there are still some outstanding issues.”

Wilson said he was cautiously optimistic that an agreement can be reached soon. He would not say how much the land-use plan might cost, saying that costs remain to be negotiated.

The talks, which have been taking place daily for 11 weeks, include Interfor, current target of the campaign. Wilson said he wants an agreement ready for cabinet by the end of the month. The agreement only covers the central coast — a region stretching from Knight Inlet to Princess Royal Island south of Kitimat.

It leaves one company, West Fraser Timber Co., which has operations on the north coast, still exposed to environmental pressure, Berman said. Negotiations for a central coast agreement, called the Land and Resource Management Plan, have been under way for four years, but it is only recently that other processes — the native Indian-initiated Turning Points talks and the industry-eco-group talks called Joint Solutions joined the LRMP talks.

The central coast — called the great bear rainforest by environmentalists — has been the focus of a marketing campaign targeting customers of B.C. forest products.

Multinational companies like Home Depot have been picketed by protesters in bear costumes, investors have been urged to avoid mutual funds that hold shares in coastal companies, and ships containing products from the coastal forests have been turned back at European ports.

Coastal mayors and Indian groups want the campaign to end immediately, but Berman said the deal must be reached first.

Lornie described the agreement as a framework, which will be backed up by a 150-page document detailing where consensus has been reached and putting in place a process to address issues that are still unsettled, such as financial compensation, what areas will ultimately be protected and how eco-logging will be implemented.

“This agreement outlines how we are going to move forward.”