Independent science shaped the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements

Feature story - March 30, 2012
Fundamental to the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements of 2006 and 2009 was the role that independent science played in determining the requirements to safeguard its ecological integrity . The letter below was released today by a group of thirteen scientists from seven countries to BC Premier Christy Clarke. It further underscores the value scientists give to the global importance of the Great Bear Rainforest in terms of biodiversity and climate change.

April-14-10

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

Fundamental to the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements of 2006 and 2009 was the role that independent science played in determining the requirements to safeguard its ecological integrity. The letter  below was released today by a group of thirteen scientists from seven countries to BC Premier Christy Clarke. It further underscores the value scientists give to the global importance of the Great Bear Rainforest in terms of biodiversity and climate change.

 

 

 

March 31, 2012
Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia
Re: Great Bear Rainforest Agreements 2006 and 2009

Dear Premier Clark:

As scientists who co-authored an award-winning book on the world’s temperate rainforests , we are writing to request that you fully implement the agreements to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia announced first in February 2006 and recommitted three years ago, on March 31, 2009. As noted in our book, while international efforts to protect the world’s forests for climate change planning and sustainable management have rightfully focused on tropical rainforests, protection of temperate rainforests is at least as important and Canada is unique in having some of the most important temperate rainforests on the planet.

British Columbia is endowed with the Great Bear Rainforest and adjacent offshore archipelago of Haida Gwaii as one of the few remaining large blocks of comparatively unmodified landscapes on earth. This region includes over a quarter of the Pacific Coastal rainforests of North America that provide habitat for spectacular wildlife and wild salmon runs that are increasingly rare throughout the world. However, productive rainforests have been reduced by more than one-half throughout British Columbia and up to three-quarters on Vancouver Island. Thus, fulfilling the terms of the Great Bear agreements is vital to ensuring that this rainforest system will remain integral to Canada’s natural legacy as it prepares for the challenges of natural resource demands in a changing global climate.

New information on forest carbon sinks shows that the Great Bear, Haida Gwaii, and Clayoquot Sound rainforests may play an important role in helping to stabilize the global climate, as these forests store an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of nearly 100 times the province’s official annual greenhouse gas emissions . When rainforests are cut down, up to 40 percent of their stored carbon is released as a global warming pollutant. The Great Bear Rainforest agreements will protect an important global sink of forest carbon stores.

The history of how the provincial government of British Columbia, First Nations, conservation groups, and the timber industry joined together on the Great Bear agreements is an exemplary model of conservation that we hope will be replicated around the globe, particularly in recognition of theUnited Nations 2011 International Year of Forests efforts to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation, and sustainable development of forests. Canada has a unique opportunity to demonstrate global leadership on sustainability.

In closing, we request that you complete the outstanding tasks to fully implement the Great Bear Agreements by March 31, 2013 and, in the meantime, immediately implement the interim conservation milestones agreed to in March 2009 that are still not in place. Given the global importance of the Great Bear Rainforests and the imminent threats posed to intact rainforests around the world, we commend you for reaching these agreements and now urge you to demonstrate to Canadians and the rest of the world your commitments to fulfilling them.

Sincerely (affiliations listed for identification purposes only),

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist & President
Geos Institute, Ashland, Oregon, USA

Paul Alaback, Ph.D.,
Professor Emeritus of Ecology, Forest Management Dept.
College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, USA

 Lance Craighead, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Craighead Institute, Montana, USA

Anton Drescher, Ph.D.
Institute for Plant Sciences, Department of Systematics and Geobotany
Herbarium GZU, University of Graz, Austria

Håkon Holien
Associate Professor
Nord-Trøndelag University College
Steinkjer, Norway

Paul Hosten, Ph.D.
Ecologist
Hawaii, USA

Pavel V. Krestov, Ph.D.
Director, Botanical Garden-Institute
Vladivostok, Russia

James Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Geography and Environmental Studies
University of Tasmania, Australia

Faisal Moola, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Forestry
University of Toronto, Canada

Reed F. Noss, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
University of Central Florida, Orlando, USA

Paul Paquet, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Sydney, BC

John Schoen, Ph.D.
Wildlife Ecologist
Alaska, USA

Henrik von Wehrden, Ph.D.
Centre for Methods, Institute of Ecology
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

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