Today, under a beautiful blue sky on the steps of the British Columbia’s Legislature in Victoria, Greenpeace and its allies marked a major milestone in the Great Bear Rainforest campaign. Along with Jens Wieting of Sierra Club BC, and ForestEthics Solutions, I presented a scroll to the BC government, with over 10 000 names supporting our call to Premier Christy Clark to wrap up the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements by March 2013. You can read the press release by the three organizations here.
TakeItTaller.ca, our collective online campaign that gathered all the names, and which is still going strong, has been very successful over these past few months and has really generated public interest, once again, in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. Last week through TakeItTaller.ca we selected a winner of the Great Bear’s Got Talent contest with a very happy artist heading to the Great Bear Rainforest this fall. The contest, as with the broader initiative to achieve the remaining 20 per cent preservation of old-growth forests proved tremendously successful, another sign indicating how many people care about this special place.
The campaign by Greenpeace and its allies to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest has been running over a decade. Marking a turning point from conflict to collaboration between the forest products industry and environmental oganizations, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements of 2006 and 2009 were struck to critical acclaim. Along with First Nations, the province of BC and the forest products industry, we are aiming to achieve the two over-arching goals of the Agreements: 70 per cent protection of old-growth forest ecosystems and increased well-being in coastal, primarily First Nations communities who call the region home. On the first goal, we are at 50% protection and on the second goal, a great deal more work needs to be done by the province to address the substantial economic and social needs of the communities.
This long rich history of collaboration with First Nations as the title holders of the unceeded lands we call the Great Bear Rainforest (which makes up their traditional territories), industry and the BC government has resulted in major innovative solutions based on the premise that ecology and economics do not have to be at loggerheads (pardon the pun) but that in fact the latter is nested in the former.
And so it was that today a new part of the story from conflict to collaboration in the Great Bear Rainforest was written with the unveiling of the scroll listing the names of all those people pledging their goodwill and support compelling the province to wrap up this important work. As we unrolled the scroll down the steps of the Legislature, all of a sudden all those names took on new meaning for me, as behind each name is a person who cares a great deal. It really was quite impressive, the metres and metres of scroll with all those names, and so for me it made this online campaign very real and concrete.
We received very good media coverage and all the tourists and general members of the public milling about expressed a lot of support and interest in what we were doing on the steps with this gigantic scroll and colourful banner. The scroll has been sent to the Premier’s Office, and so we hope Premier Clark is able to take to heart the underlying message – let’s get this done.
How will the next chapter of the Great Bear Rainforest be written? Will First Nations and other communities receive the support they need to empower them to enhance the wellbeing of their peoples? Will we reach 70% preservation of old-growth forested ecosystems, and sooner than later?
We firmly believe so. As do the 10 000+ people from not just BC but across the country and around the world. They too believe it is possible to finish what we all started with such great hope and promise over a decade ago. They share with us the vision that it is entirely possible to achieve healthy communities and healthy ecosystems. Indeed it is both a moral and ecological imperative that we do so.