The Great Bear Rainforest is very wild and very big – two thirds the size of Ireland. It’s a stunning place of ancient trees a thousand years old and home to remarkable animals like Spirit bears, rainforest wolves, whales, tailed frogs and salmon. It has also been home for time immemorial to more than two dozen First Nations. We don’t like to wax poetic, but truly, this is one of those places - a landscape that will make your jaw drop.
In the late 1990s the world watched in horror as ancient trees from this forest were being logged to make household items like phone books and decking. We went to work convincing major wood and paper companies to insist that their logging suppliers stop the damage.
Fast forward twenty years and in February of 2016, we sat alongside First Nations, the forest industry, the government of British Columbia, and partner environmental groups to announce a groundbreaking agreement to permanently protect 85% of the forests of the Great Bear from industrial logging.
The remaining 15% are subject to the strictest legal standard for commercial logging in North America. The First Nations involved in the agreement strengthened oversight of their lands, secured new community development opportunities and stewarded a new model of forest management.
Here are the specifics on the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement:
- 85% of the Great Bear Rainforest is now legally off limits to logging;
- First Nations are now co-decision makers, along with the provincial government of British Columbia. Agreements between the government and First Nations will promote the vitality of native communities and their culture;
- Logging is restricted to 15% of the Great Bear Rainforest and it will be subject to the most stringent standards in North America; and
- Every year, logging companies are required to report how they are achieving their conservation targets.
To learn more about the primary First Nation and environment organizations behind the Great Bear Rainforest agreement, visit the links below:
- Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative - an alliance of Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk Nation, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation
- Nanwakolas Council - an advocacy, technical and coordination support vehicle for member First Nations: Mamalilikulla Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em; Tlowitsis; Da'naxda'xw Awaetlatla; Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw; We Wai Kum; Kwiakah; K'ómoks First Nations
- Province of British Columbia
- Rainforest Solutions Project - a joint project of Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics), Greenpeace and Sierra Club BC with Tides Canada Initiative
- Coast Forest Conservation Initiative - a industry alliance of BC Timber Sales, Interfor, Western Forest Products, Catalyst Paper, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper