Great Bear Rainforest

The spirit bear (also known as Kermode Bear) makes its home in the Great Bear Rainforest. © Andrew Wright /

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.

The latest updates


Overcoming the Impossible: Safeguarding the Great Bear Rainforest

Blog entry by Richard Brooks | February 8, 2016

It’s Monday and I am standing in a room, waiting to speak at the media conference that announces the completion of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements – safeguarding an area of forest larger than Vancouver Island, bigger than...

Celebrating twenty years of campaigning to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | February 1, 2016

At long last, today we celebrate the culmination of over twenty years of campaigning to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest. We started with conflict in the mid-1990s: exposing to the world through blockades, protests, and...

Great Bear to the Boreal: 7 Ways to Shorten a Campaign for Forest Protection

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | January 29, 2016

We are getting much closer to the end of the long and winding road that has been the Great Bear Rainforest campaign. As I mentioned in a recent blog , along the way to completing the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements we have...

Top Seven Wondrous Facts about the Great Bear Rainforest

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | January 8, 2016

British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest:  Where one of the world’s largest remaining coastal temperate rainforests is also home to many, many First Nations, and which holds one of the richest and most wondrous ecosystems on Earth –...

Of twisty roads and fire monkeys in the Great Bear Rainforest

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | January 1, 2016

Over the past few months I have been  writing about  the Great Bear Rainforest in terms of the campaign to finalize the Agreements - first announced in February 2006 to global acclaim by then-BC premier Gordon Campbell and the region’s...

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