VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A deal was finally achieved to protect 85 percent of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest from logging. The agreement was made between forest companies, aboriginals, environmental activists and the government. Premier Christy Clark announced the news on Monday.
The Great Bear, which figures as the world’s largest intact temperature rainforest, is located about 435 miles (700 kilometers) northwest of Vancouver. The agreement represents a significant achievement, since it ensures that 3.1 million hectares (7.7 million acres) of the forest will remain off limits to logging.
About 95 percent of the area was available for logging two decades ago, according to environmentalist Richard Brooks, but blockades, protests and negotiations led to the recent agreement. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to 26 aboriginal tribes, known as First Nations.
“The Great Bear Rainforest, there’s no question, it’s a jewel in the crown of magnificent landscapes in British Columbia,” Premier Christy Clark expressed on Monday. She added that the “landmark agreement” would contribute to expanding economic opportunities for aborigines and local communities by ensuring protection of old and second-growth forest.
The deal, which also puts an end to the commercial grizzly bear hunt and supports the natural habitat for the marbled murrelet, took so long to be reached because it involved groups with strongly differing opinions, according to Coast Forest Products Association CEO Rick Jeffery. He said that successful talks were achieved over time. The agreement also protects the habitat for mountain goat and northern goshawk.
In 2006, the area was given the official name of Great Bear Rainforest by the former premier Gordon Campbell. The rainforest had been named the same since environmentalists started to join forces to protect the central coast from logging.
Environmental campaigners believe the Monday’s agreement is a great model that should be copied to solve similar land-use conflicts from around the world. Intense negotiations for about 10 years between all groups involved have resulted in the draft of the new measures, which are expected to be signed into law by the province next spring.
The Great Bear Rainforest helps purify air and water through its vast habitat that covers 32,000 sq km (12,000 sq miles) on Canada’s Pacific coast. It is home to wolves, grizzly bears and cougars, among other species such as the Pacific salmon, which provide 80 percent of the nitrogen in the forest’s trees.