Victory for Canadian forest campaign

Posted: 9 February 2006

A coalition of four leading environmental groups, along with industry leaders and indigenous groups, are celebrating success after a decade-long campaign to protect the globally unique Great Bear Rainforest, in British Columbia, Canada.

Great Bear Rainforest map
Great Bear Rainforest map
The total area protected from the chainsaw equals 5 million acres, twice the size of Yellowstone Park and equal to 6300 of New York's Central Park. This total includes new and previous protection areas, plus special no logging zones.

"Is it possible to balance economic interests, environmental protection and the hopes and dreams of communities? Today British Columbia proved that it is," said Merran Smith, Director, BC Coast Program, ForestEthics. "This rainforest agreement provides a real world example of how people and wilderness can prosper together. And this is just the beginning."

ForestEthics, Greenpeace and Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter, have worked toward this solution for almost a decade, using tactics that ranged from blockades to boycotts to boardroom negotiations, all in a bid to protect as much of the Great Bear Rainforest as possible.

Global model

"For more than a decade, all eyes have been on Canada's rainforest," said Amanda Carr, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner. "If today's promises become reality, we'll have a global model of sustainability, exactly what international customers of British Columbia wood tell us they want."

Logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: G.P. Clarke/Greenpeace
Logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: G.P. Clarke/Greenpeace
Logging in the Great Bear Rainforest.© G.P. Clarke/Greenpeace
This agreement, announced this week, represents hundreds of thousands of hours of dirt-under-the-fingernails work by one of the most unexpected alliances in Canadian history. It included a blue-ribbon science panel supported by governments, environmental groups and logging companies that developed specific recommendations to change logging practices.

"From here we'll be working with First Nations to ensure today's commitment results in real change on the ground - that forest practices are different than the kind of logging that has inflicted so much damage in BC's coastal rainforest," said Lisa Matthaus, Coast Campaign Coordinator with Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter.

Logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: Al Harvey
Logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: Al Harvey
The Great Bear Rainforest is home to many species© Al Harvey
To date, almost half of a $120 million investment package has been raised by US and Canadian donors for conservation and sustainable business ventures in First Nation territories. The BC government has committed $30 million to the financing package, however the Canadian government has yet to commit its $30 million share.

The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement means:

  • 1. 5 million acres is protected from logging

  • The application of better, lighter-touch forestry by March 2009

  • Comprehensive First Nations involvement in management over their entire traditional territory
  • The diversification of the economy based on conservation
  • Source: Rain Forest Action