The model for new environmentalism
In one of the most biologically rich places in the world, eagles soar high because they have to: Magnificent cedars rise as high as thirty stories from the forest floor. Still, it’s not high above where you’ll find the Great Bear’s most mysterious and magnificent treasures, it’s deep within: unique resources such as invaluable medicinal plants, rich runs of one of the world's largest wild salmon population quirky creatures like the tailed frog and marbled murrelet, and extremely rare wildlife such as the Great Bear’s namesake, the white furred Spirit Bear.
With support from people like you, we have been able to dedicate our efforts to ensuring this elaborate ecosystem will live on for generations. There have been significant achievements of which we can all be proud. Many of the world’s best known environmental advocates are also looking to see the conservation model of the Great Bear Rainforest reach its full promise. The modern-day success story of the Great Bear Rainforest is unfolding.
A place where environment and economy are in tune
There have been major milestones in the Great Bear Rainforest which have resulted in progressively greater protection of forests and species and improvements for First Nations communities. On March 31, 2006 an agreement was signed that committed the provincial government and First Nations governments of the region to major conservation and human well being initiatives. Three years later (March 2009) another set of agreements were made that improved upon the first. Some of these major milestones include:
- 2.1 million hectares, or 5 million acres—an area half the size of Switzerland—have been legally protected from logging;
- $120 million is available to First Nation communities to help kick-start a new conservation economy as an alternative to logging and develop capacity and systems for conservation management;
- New governance and decision-making – First Nations and the BC government have developed a new government-to-government relationships and mechanisms for collaborative stakeholder involvement;
- A new system of lighter touch logging, based on ecosystem-based management (EBM), has been legislated. As a transitional phase to fully conserving full ecosystem integrity, management rules currently require that 50% of the natural level of old growth forest in the region be maintained. This translates to an additional 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) of forest set aside from logging.
Furthermore, various stakeholders have developed a five-year plan moving forward from 2009, ensuring that this pristine rainforest will be preserved for generations. The plan includes:
- Milestones for improving management to ensure 70% old-growth maintained over time, up from 50%;
- Ongoing science-based collaborative planning;
- Development of a reserve network for species habitats and ecosystem conservation outside of the protected areas;
- Human well-being initiatives for communities in the region.
While there is still work to be done, we recognize the story of the Great Bear Rainforest as a major success in progress. The lessons learned in this campaign can inform environmental protection campaigns around the globe.
Learn more about the successes in the Great Bear Rainforest >>
A major difference between the successes in the Great Bear Rainforest and other conservation efforts around the world is the remarkable multi-party collaboration that happened between:
- The forest industry;
- The government of both British Columbia and Canada;
- Three leading environmental groups, including ForestEthics;
- Coastal First Nations;
- The philanthropic community;
- Large corporations such as Home Depot, Lowe's, and German publishers.
The Great Bear Rainforest has forged new ground in this regard and can be a model for how to achieve lasting conservation in other parts of the world.