Victory for the Great Bear Rainforest

Feature story - May 21, 2003
On April 4th, 2001, after years of grassroots efforts, a coalition of forest protection advocates, including Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and ForestEthics, scored a huge victory when the government of British Columbia endorsed the largest rainforest conservation measure in the history of North America.

The measure is the result of a global markets campaign effort by environmental activists and local efforts by First Nations groups. The measures calls for seven million acres of ancient rainforest on the Pacific coast of Canada to be immediately protected or put into deferral. The global campaign took a unique strategy of targeting not just the companies logging in British Columbia but also the customers of those companies by impressing upon them the consequences of buying products that contribute to rainforest destruction.

This conservation measure protects one of the rarest and most endangered types of ancient forest in the world - coastal temperate rainforests. They only exist in their natural state in temperate zones, stretching along the west coast of Canada and much of the US. These forests only ever covered 0.2 percent of the earth's land surface, and are far rarer than tropical rainforests.

These forests are home to some of the oldest, largest and most magnificent trees on earth as well as to an abundance of wildlife including bears, wolves, eagles and salmon. The unique way in which the salmon in the river interact with the nutrient cycle of the rainforest ecosystem provides the dietary backbone for animals of the forest and the local indigenous people who have inhabited this rainforest coast for thousands of years.