The Great Bear Rainforest is an emerald on Canada’s West Coast, stretching along two-thirds of the British Columbia coast to Alaska. It’s the traditional territory of many coastal First Nations, whose peoples have called this region home for millennia.
Coastal Tailed Frog @ ONeil/Greenpeace
This globally significant coastal temperate rainforest is also home to five key species. Despite years of campaigning to protect the rainforest, key species may be at risk because critical habitat is still not protected. Over a five-month period, Greenpeace is highlighting these key species — Grizzly Bear, Marbled Murrelet, Northern Goshawk, Coastal Tailed Frog and Mountain Goat — to focus more attention on these species and the challenges they face. The spotlights will also focus on what you can do to help ensure their protection.
Despite its ecological and cultural significance, the Great Bear Rainforest was until a few years ago largely unprotected and under threat of industrial logging. Years of protests and markets campaigns by Greenpeace and its allies were followed by years of negotiations with the government of British Columbia, coastal First Nations, logging companies and other stakeholders. In 2006, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements were announced by the government of British Columbia to much global fanfare, permanently protecting a third of the rainforest from industrial logging, with the remaining land-base being subject to a new set of lighter-touch logging regulations under Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM). The twin goals of EBM in the Great Bear Rainforest are to maintain ecological integrity while achieving high levels of community well-being. Science tells us that to maintain the ecological integrity of the rainforest 70-per-cent of natural levels of old growth forest need to be preserved.
In March 2009, another set of follow-up agreements committed the 2006 signatory parties (coastal First Nations, provincial government, industry and Greenpeace with other environmental organizations) to a series of interim conservation measures aimed at taking major steps toward achieving the twin goals of EBM by 2014. These agreements increased the amount of old growth trees to be safeguarded from logging to 50 per cent of their natural level as an interim measure across the Great Bear Rainforest through more stringent, transitional logging regulations. All parties agreed to create a map, or reserve network that identifies where logging is to be off-limits in order to achieve 50 per cent off-limits to logging.
The mapping was considered an interim, transitional measure ultimately leading to 70 per cent protection of old-growth within the Great Bear Rainforest by 2014. By September 2009, this reserve network should have been completed and should have identified where rainforest lands and critical habitat for the five key species was to have been further set aside from logging.
However, after many months of delays no final map or other related interim conservation measures are in place. This means these five key species could still be at risk. These species represent a broad range of habitats, are sensitive to the disappearance of mature and old growth forests and are at risk to varying degrees. Greenpeace and its allies have made public a report on these key species, “Slipping Through the Cracks? The Fate of Focal Species in the Great Bear Rainforest.”
To draw attention to these key species of the Great Bear Rainforest, Greenpeace is producing a series of fact sheets, stickers and blogs. We are also using Facebook groups and Twitter to encourage the public to take online action on the months-long delays and contact the government of British Columbia to persuade the Premier to meet his commitments.
Please visit our Take Action and Resources sections beginning June 3 for more information and to take action