Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Province to reveal managing plan for Great Bear Rainforest

March 30, 2009

(Vancouver, BC) – The government of British Columbia is expected to announce today that a final agreement has been reached for managing four million hectares in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The region, which contains the largest intact temperate rain forest left in the world, stretches along the B.C. coast from just north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle.

It has been the focus of intense negotiations over the past three years, since the government announced large areas of the Great Bear Rainforest would be protected, and the remainder of the region would be subject to a new kind of soft-impact logging, or ecosystem-based management.

When Premier Gordon Campbell announced in 2006 that two million hectares would be protected, he promised his government would implement ecosystem-based management for another four million hectares by March of this year.

Failure to reach an agreement by today could have put in jeopardy $120-million in private and government funding that had been pledged to help manage the area.

Jessica Wilson, a Greenpeace spokeswoman, said in a statement yesterday that “forest campaigners have truly been burning the midnight oil, negotiating the final details of this monumental, globally significant announcement.”

She said the agreements will provide an environmental blueprint that “other nations should follow to pave the way for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable and responsible forestry practices.”

Under ecosystem-based management, British Columbia is expected to develop ways of logging that have minimal impact on the environment and that ensure protection of 50 per cent to 70 per cent of old-growth forest in the region.

The agreement could come in for criticism, however, because a science panel has recommended at least 70 per cent of old growth forest be protected to protect endangered species.

Measures to protect salmon habitat are also expected to be announced today and an ecosystem-based management handbook will be adopted, which will set out the specific logging practices that have to be followed throughout the Great Bear Rainforest region.

It’s expected that three areas will be set aside as no-hunting preserves to protect grizzly bears.