The United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests. While a celebratory moment, it also sheds a much needed spotlight on the significant deforestation that continues around the world. Our campaigns in Indonesia, the Amazon and the Congo are running full tilt to try and slow down the pace to zero deforestation, not only for the sake of all species that rely on these precious forests but also for the sake of a warming planet which needs standing old-growth forests to retain as much carbon as possible.
So it is fitting in this Year of Forests then that Greenpeace also marks a landmark announcement made exactly a decade ago to the problem of rampant deforestation on Canada’s west coast. At the time we were in the midst of a heated all-out campaign to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Blockades of logging roads and camps, protests at Canadian embassies around the world and a very effective international markets campaign created an international buzz around the Great Bear Rainforest, much like Clayoqout Sound some years before it (to see a slide show related to the campaign watch the slideshow below and to read a more comprehensive account of the campaign click here)
The Great Bear Rainforest Framework Agreement announced on April 4th 2001 lay the groundwork for a solutions-based approach to complex environmental and socio-economic issues over conflicting land uses. Solutions to the complex problem of global deforestation are vitally needed, and the preservation of the Great Bear Rainforest might be one such solution. The Great Bear Rainforest offers a global model that could help resolve not only environmental conflicts, but also address issues of social justice, especially in terms of the rights of Indigenous people to their traditional territories, and their right to a sustainable livelihood.
But while the Great Bear Rainforest is now in a solutions-space, in reflecting back on the 10th Anniversary of the Framework Agreement, what is clear is that long-lasting solutions, especially in complex land-use/resource conflicts, require long-lasting commitment from all parties, and take significant time to succeed. Indeed our campaign has been running since the mid-90’s - over 15 years of campaigning.
The Great Bear Rainforest is on the way to a happy ending, but the last chapter remains unwritten. All parties are working towards two goals by 2014 to ensure the long-term ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest: 70 per cent protection of natural old growth forests across the region and significant improvements in the well-being of communities that rely on the rainforest. Success in the Great Bear Rainforest demands that both goals are achieved.
The campaigns to protect Clayoquout Sound and the Great Bear Rainforest have gone on to inspire Greenpeace’s work in the Amazon, the Congo and Indonesia. As this auspicious year is also Greenpeace’s 40th anniversary, there is a convergence of hope here, that in marking the 10th anniversary of the Great Bear Rainforest Framework Agreement , the model develops into a true “greenprint” for global forest conservation.