Great Bear Rainforest
The spirit bear (also known as Kermode Bear) makes its home in the Great Bear Rainforest.
© Andrew Wright / www.cold-coast.com
After almost two decades of conflict, collaboration and consensus that saw the Great Bear Rainforest go from 5% protection in the 1990s to 85% protection of its forested landbase in 2016, a final long-term agreement is now in place to safeguard the beautiful Great Bear Rainforest into the future.
Stretching along the mainland coast of British Columbia from the Discovery Islands to the magnificent Tongass rainforest of Alaska, the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest tracts of intact coastal temperate rainforests remaining in the world. The rainforest was threatened by industrial logging and mining in the 1990s. Habitat for bears, eagles, and salmon was being destroyed in the unceded traditional territories of many First Nations, as their leadership and governments had no say over decisions impacting their communities and their territories.
Greenpeace fought for two decades alongside its environmental and First Nations allies to help bring a set of conservation agreements to fruition. First announced by the Government of British Columbia in February 2006, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements established two goals: 1. reach 70% protection of old-growth ecosystems, and 2. increase community well-being. By 2009 only 50% protection had been achieved. In 2016 the agreements have been fulfilled, setting aside 85% of the forested landbase – essentially an area the size of Vancouver Island – from old-growth logging. In addition to even more stringent, legal logging regulations for the remaining 15% and an expanded network of protected areas, First Nations governments have solidified their say over land use decisions in their traditional territories and increased revenue-sharing with the BC Government.
Greenpeace celebrates such a dramatic turnaround after 5 years of intense conflict and 15 years of tough negotiations and consensus-making, and this success story brings hope for other Canadian forests that are still in urgent need of protection.
How Greenpeace worked to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest
- Exposed environmental problems: Exposed environmental problems: We cast an international spotlight on industrial projects that threatened the health of the rainforest.
- Collaborated in solutions-based discussions: We were deeply involved in negotiations with our environmental partners, First Nations, the forestry industry and the B.C. government. Learn more about this global solution .
- Engaged the marketplace: We communicated and worked with companies that bought wood and paper from the rainforest, urging them to use their purchasing power to influence logging practices. We encourage Forest Stewardship Council certification for logging companies.
- Supported communities: We supported First Nations in their efforts to diversify their economies and increase their governance over their traditional territories as well as individual First Nations stewardship initiatives like the Heiltsuk Nation’s Qqs Projects Society.
How Greenpeace will continue to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest
- Monitoring: We will seek to monitor the implementation of the final conservation measures in Great Bear Rainforest Agreements of 2016
- Engaging the marketplace: We will alert the marketplace on an annual basis on implementation of the final conservation measures
- Supporting communities: We will continue to build on our relationships with First Nations communities, supporting them in their aspirations for self-determination and will ensure that promises made in 2016 by the BC Government and forestry industry are promises kept into the future.