Only half of Great Bear Rainforest off-limits to logging:

Only half of Great Bear Rainforest off-limits to logging: Greenpeace and allies call on B.C. Premier to finish the job on sixth anniversary of historic agreement

Feature story - February 7, 2012
Despite widespread public and political support for an agreement to save one of the world’s last and largest intact coastal temperate rainforests, only half of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest is currently protected from logging.

Spirit Bear searching for Fish

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, a historic initiative struck between Greenpeace and its environmental allies, First Nations, the provincial government and the logging industry. The Agreement was lauded across B.C. and around the world for its commitment to both preserve this rare rainforest and empower First Nations of the region to improve the well-being of their communities. This ecological gem is also home to the rare white Spirit Bear, grizzly bears and rich runs of salmon.

A subsequent set of agreements in March 2009 committed the parties to additional milestones to increase conservation and improve human well-being in coastal communities.

But instead of celebrating, and after years of negotiations, Greenpeace, ForestEthics and Sierra Club BC are warning that current rules still allow logging in 50 per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest, and delays in reaching milestones are creating an urgent need to speed up the implementation process.

“Pipelines and tankers aren’t the only things threatening the Great Bear Rainforest,” said Jens Wieting, Coastal Forest Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “So long as only 50 per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest is off-limits to logging, the whole forest remains at risk.”

Greenpeace, ForestEthics and Sierra Club BC today sent an open letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, calling on the province to take the critical last steps to make sure the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements are fully implemented by March 31, 2013.

According to scientific recommendations developed to protect the region, about 20 per cent more of the natural old-growth rainforest must be set aside under new logging regulations to meet the goals of the Agreements.  

“The science is very clear that we need to protect about 70 per cent of the natural level of old-growth forest if we want to save the Great Bear Rainforest from inevitable decline,” said Eduardo Sousa, Senior Forests Campaigner with Greenpeace. “The longer we wait to do this, the less likely it is we’ll be able to save the Great Bear Rainforest as we know it.”

Meeting these conservation targets in the Great Bear Rainforest is also key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of economic activities that are an important source of income and well-being for local and First Nations communities, such as fishing, ecotourism and logging.

“For the communities of the Great Bear Rainforest, a healthy economy depends on a healthy forest,” said Valerie Langer, Senior Campaigner with ForestEthics. “British Columbians need the province to show leadership by following through on their commitments to protecting the forest and improving the lives of the people in the region.” 

In their letter the groups also call for speedier investments, as promised in the Agreements, to improve the well-being of First Nations communities in the Great Bear Rainforest.

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