The Great Bear Rainforest agreement

What is in the Great Bear Agreement of February, 2006?

Publication - February 7, 2006
The scale of agreements in the Great Bear Rainforest go beyond protecting one single valley or establishing of one sustainable business venture - victories which alone are often celebrated as a success.

The campaign goals Greenpeace embarked on were large and visionary covering 21 million acres, the traditional territory of 17 First Nations, and a region of economic importance to many, including 5 major multinational logging companies.  

To be successful and sustainable in this complicated political, economic and environmental landscape, conservation in the Great Bear Rainforest must not only protect the ecosystem, but also leverage change in multinational economic forces, respect indigenous cultures, and strengthen local stewardship efforts and economies.

On February 7, 2006, the Government of British Columbia ratified agreements based on the outcomes of their negotiations with First Nations that include:

•  A quadrupling of existing protected areas that would see 1/3 of the region off limits to logging.   This protected areas network is the largest coastal temperate rainforest protection package in Canadian history and represents an area 5 times the size of Prince Edward Island.

•  The percentage of protection (33% of the Great Bear Rainforest) being considered is globally significant.   If we compare this to existing protected areas in the Great Bear Rainforest at 7%, B.C. where only 12.5% is protected, Canada where only 6.3% is protected or globally where 10.8% is protected, the gains are clear.   For reference, other regions that are renowned for their protected areas are Costa Rica at 25% and the Great Barrier Reef at 33%.

•  Analysis shows that over 55% of estuaries and 54% of wetlands, approximately 30% of all habitat for Northern Goshawk, grizzly bear, Marbled Murrelet, black-tailed deer and tailed-frog, 34% of all remaining old-growth forest, and 39% of mature forest are found in the protected areas network.   Fully, 40% of all documented salmon-bearing stream reaches are entirely included within the proposed protected area system.

•  The proposed protected areas network under-represents "rock and ice" and captures much more high value low elevation forests than are represented currently in BC's park system.   Alpine tundra represented in BC's current park system sits at 29%, while in the Great Bear Rainforest proposed protection would see only 15% in alpine tundra (note: 20% of the Great Bear Rainforest overall is classified as alpine tundra).

•  A commitment to take a small step and create a pathway and structure to see implementation of Ecosystem-based Management by 2009.   If government and industry to abide by the adopted Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) Handbook this would result in a full 70% of the GBR's ecosystems and species in some form of protection at any one time.

•  $60 million in private and philanthropic funds matched by $60 from the province and feds to flow to First Nations based on the ecological results of their land use plans.   Up to an additional $80 million in socially responsible investments for native and non-native communities with ties to the current economy of the Great Bear Rainforest.   These funds include a conservation endowment fund (which generates income in perpetuity) dedicated solely to science and stewardship activities including restoration projects and conservation management, such as Forest Watchman jobs and stream restoration.   An economic development fund and socially responsible investments will be dedicated to ecologically sustainable business ventures such as tourism, alternative energy production, non-timber forest products and shellfish aquaculture.   The goal is to enable communities in the region to transition to a new economy, rather than rely on multinational corporations that choose to enter the region (such as aquaculture and logging companies).