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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
Hope on Vancouver Island following historic Great Bear Rainforest agreement
Today the province, First Nations, environmental groups, and the forest industry announced an agreement to permanently protect B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest from logging
Chek News, February 1, 2016
It was an historic moment 20 years in the making.
Today it was announced an agreement has been reached between the province, 26 First Nations, environmental groups and the forest industry to protect 85% of B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest from logging.
“It preserves land with cultural, ecological and spiritual ties vitally important to the people who have lived there for millennia,” said B.C. Premier Christy Clark at a press conference in Vancouver.
“I stand here today proud, happy, but still a little bit upset that it’s taken this long for us to find that balance that we were looking for for the last 20 years,” said Dallas Smith, President of the Nanwakolas Tribal Council.
The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares and is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.
The best known species to call it home is the Spirit, or Kermode, bear.
20 years ago the battle to protect it began with protests and blockades — that was followed by an international campaign against B.C. forest products, which cost millions of dollars in contracts.
“International pressure was definitely key to bring the parties together to collaborate,” said Richard Brooks, Greenpeace Canada’s Forest Campaign Coordinator.
There will still be logging in the remaining 15%, but the parties involved say it will be under some of the strictest regulations in North America.
Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance, says now that B.C.’s northern rainforest is protected, it’s time to focus on Vancouver Island.
“We actually have the most significant or grandest ancient forests remaining,” said Wu.
“These are Jurassic Park-type landscapes, primeval ancient landscapes and we only have 6% of our productive forests under protection.”
Wu says if nothing is done to protect places like the Walbran Valley from logging, old growth-dependent species here will eventually go extinct.
But he hopes with today’s unprecedented agreement, it will never come to that.
“This basically changes the political dynamic in terms of forests in this province, in fact, in this country, so it’s a huge leap forward,” Wu said.