Take ten years of difficult, dangerous, and at times, heartbreaking work. Add thousands of activists from around the world -- some who sent emails, some who stood on the blockades, some who voted against destruction with their wallets. Some who were beaten, some who were sued, some who were arrested. Today it added up to victory. Common sense has prevailed and one of the world's treasures, the Great Bear Rainforest, is saved from destruction.
Great Bear Rainforest, Canada. Moss cover the rocks and fallen trees.
Rewind ten years to a beautiful forested area on the west coast
ofCanada, in the province of British Columbia imaginatively called
the'mid-coast timber supply area.' The old name for this
magnificentforest highlighted its intended destiny, a destiny that
would radicallychange once a group of environmental activists,
along with FirstNations communities decided that sitting still and
watching millions ofhectares of ancient rainforest being felled was
not an option.
Theydecided that action was needed to protect the home of
grizzly, blackand rare white "Spirit" bears, wild salmon, eagles
and wolves as wellas one-thousand year old cedar trees and ancient
spruce. Little didthey know then that the journey from those early
days of what was called "the War in the Woods"would lead them to one of the
greatest environmental victories inCanadian history.
"Today's decision is welcome news for theGreat Bear Rainforest
which was being destroyed at an alarming rate tofeed a growing
international appetite for wood, paper and toilet roll,"said Gavin
Edwards, Global Forest Campaign Coordinator at
GreenpeaceInternational. "The world's last ancient forests need a
global networkof protected areas to survive - and the Great Bear
Rainforest is a goodstart."
The finalagreement, announced today by the British Columbian
Government has beennegotiated between environmental groups, First
Nations, loggingcompanies and the government. It allows for the
full protection of onethird of the Great Bear Rainforest from any
logging, an area of overtwo million hectares (over five million
acres). Significantly, it alsoensures that the logging industry
implements a strict ecosystem-basedmanagement system by 2009 in the
two thirds of the forest that isoutside strict protection.
"Greenpeace will be watchingto see if the British Columbian
Government follows through on thesecommitments and takes this
opportunity to make the Great BearRainforest a global model of
forest sustainability," said Amanda Carr,forest campaigner for
This victory sets thescene for many more battles for forests
around the world. Activists andcommunities have shown that the
senseless destruction can be stoppedand that sustainably managed
forests are the way forward. This March,the governments of the
world will be meeting in Brazil at theConvention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) to work on plans to stop theslide towards
extinction of the world's plants and animals.
Whilstthe Great Bear Rainforest has been protected, an area of
ancient forestaround one and a half times the total size of the
Great BearRainforest, approximately ten million hectares, are
destroyed eachyear. Ancient Forests such as the Amazon, and the
Paradise Forests inAsia Pacific are desperately in need of
conservation plans similar tothose announced in the Great Bear
Rainforest today. Whether worldgovernments are up to the job of
protecting them remains to be seen.
Todaywe celebrate a magnificent victory with the thousands of
activists whostood their ground in British Columbia, every
cyberactivist who eversent an e-card or an action alert on this
issue, and the millions ofpeople worldwide who have let it be known
through their votes and theirconsumer choices that the world's
remaining ancient forests need to bepreserved. Tomorrow, we
redouble our efforts to save the many otherforests in the world
that are facing destruction.
This was a victory won in large part by Cyberactivists the world over -- folks who signed up for a free e-zine and action alerts, who pressured governments and corporations with fax attacks and email, who learned what to buy and what not to buy to help this campaign succeed. Be a part of the next victory.
Your financial support allows us to continue the fight to save ancient forests like the Great Bear Rainforest, and to win more victories like these.