Representing one-quarter of the world’s remaining coastal temperate rainforest, the Great Bear Rainforest stretches along the mainland coast of British Columbia to the Alaska border, covering an area the size of Switzerland. Sometimes called “Canada’s Amazon,” the Great Bear Rainforest is part of the country’s natural heritage and national pride.

The Great Bear Rainforest gets its name from the vast number of grizzlies, black bears and Kermodes — rare white bears found nowhere else on the planet — that call it home. Along with the bears roam packs of grey wolves and herds of elk. Mountain goats scale rock cliffs, while swallows glide under the watchful eye of soaring eagles. Five species of wild Pacific salmon close the intricate link between forest and ocean.

The Great Bear Rainforest is not home to animals alone. For thousands of years, the coastal First Nations have lived in the rainforest. But decades of unsustainable land management and industrial logging have spread destruction throughout First Nations’ traditional territories, threatening the ability of the land, water and wildlife to provide for future generations.

Hope was renewed in March 2009, following a decade-long campaign that spanned the globe, when Greenpeace proudly stood on stage with First Nations, our environmental partners, the B.C. government and logging companies to celebrate the realization of a portion of the provincial government’s 2006 promise to protect the Great Bear and support the communities that live there.

The agreement, which is seen as a “greenprint” for successful forest conservation worldwide, preserves 2.8 million hectares of pristine rainforest — an area larger than Prince Edward Island — making 50 per cent of the forest off-limits to logging. In 2006, only seven per cent of the rainforest was protected. The B.C. government has committed to protecting 70 per cent of the rainforest from logging by 2014, and Greenpeace will make sure it does. Visit GreatBearSolutions.ca to learn more about this global solution in the making.

Aerial View of the Great Bear Rainforest © Greenpeace / Markus Mauthe

The Great Bear Rainforest agreement also provides $120 million to First Nations communities to kick-start a new conservation economy as an alternative to industrial logging throughout the rainforest. More importantly, First Nations and the B.C. government now work together as decision-makers on matters related to the rainforest.

Despite the agreement, threats to the Great Bear Rainforest still remain, and Greenpeace is working hard to protect it. The agreement called for lighter touch logging based on ecosystem-based management (EBM) to be fully implemented by 2009, but that deadline has shifted to 2014. Until EBM is fully implemented, the rainforest remains at risk from unsustainable industrial activities, including logging, mining, open cage fish farms and energy projects. Greenpeace is closely monitoring the situation and pushing for improved logging to be recognized with Forest Stewardship Council certification.

To experience the story behind the Great Bear Rainforest, complete with interactive features, videos and stunning images visit GreatBearSolutions.ca. For more information on the Great Bear Rainforest, including additional threats and solutions, visit Resources or Videos.

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