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Great Bear Rainforest protected from heavy logging

Great bear rainforest photo
For years, the majestic forests of towering Sitka spruce and 1,000-year-old cedars of western British Columbia were a nasty battleground between logging companies rushing to harvest the big trees and eco-activists planting their bodies in the way of the chainsaws. No more.

A landmark agreement among loggers, government and conservationists today permanently protects 5 million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest from logging and provides an effective timber harvest ban via "lighter-touch logging" on an additional 1.8 million acres of old-growth forest -- all told, an area half the size of Switzerland.

 Greenpeace, along with Sierra Club B.C. and ForestEthics, helped broker an unusually complex land management program (Download Great Bear Rainforest backgrounder) that is expected to provide a model for other forest conflicts around the world. The agreement finds a way to preserve the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest on the planet while still providing timber industry access to some of the old-growth stands, and nurturing ecologically sustainable businesses for native First Nation groups whose livelihoods depend on the forest.

The rainforest is named for the unique subspecies of black bear that, in the dense forests and pristine valleys that stretch 250 miles along the Pacific coast, occasionally produces a cub with an unusual white coat.

"We and our partners started our with a very bold idea: that you could marry environmental protection with economic and community well-being," said Stephanie Goodwin, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace.

Great bear rainforest map 2009From blockading logging roads in the 1990s, conservationists moved to pressuring home improvement companies like Home Depot to swear off the fine-grained wood products fashioned from the rainforest's old-growth trees. "There came a point when the logging industry and we said, there must be a better way of doing this," Goodwin said. "In 2001, we decided to sit down and see what a solution might be."

Now the details are worked out, and  the protections are enshrined in law, regulation, and $120 million worth of funding for conservation management and sustainable business ventures. "As we recognize the ecological integrity of this region, it is important that we also see today as a good day for the industry. This milestone helps provide assurance to customers worldwide that high-quality forest products will continue to be supplied from the B.C. Coast," said Richard Garneau, CEO of Catalyst Paper Corp.

Environmental groups hope to win even more protections later to increase the amount of old-growth forest protected from 50%, in the current pact, to 70%.

-- Kim Murphy

Photo and map: British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. Credit: Greenpeace Canada

Comments () | Archives (4)

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We've still all got a lot of work to do. However, this is an impressive model that could work in many places. Community, Environment, Economy ... all spoken and accounted for. Good one.

another great way to save the rainforest is by checking out this link!

So RARE for BC to do anything that interferes with their cash flow, and the ILLUSION, that all is 'SuperNatural.' Believe me, it AIN'T!! DREADFUL salmon farms all over; 34 million gallons of RAW, untreated sewage flows EVERY DAY from 'picturesque' Victoria; the mine toxic tailings in eastern BC would shock anyone but an extraction industry worker. Just look what Alberta is doing to it's ENTIRE ecosystem with oil sand extraction; ANYTHING FOR A BUCK! NO PRICE TO PAY TOO GREAT - just like the 19th century and the robber barons.

Excellent news. I have been fortunate enough to sea-kayak these waters and this is truly wild land and extensive forest that we need to protect. We need to treat resources like this with much greater care.... in reality the ecological and environmental services they provide in a pristine state... clean water, fisheries, biodiversity, recreation and sustainable selective logging will in the long run make far more "money" than the rapid thoughtless logging that has predominated in these places. And really they are worth protecting because of their inherent value.


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