A Kermode bear - the symbol of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Conservation and industry reach agreement on protecting old growth in the Great Bear

Conservation and industry reach agreement on protecting old growth in the Great Bear

The B.C. government announced last week that environmental groups and forestry companies have jointly submitted recommendations to ‘increase conservation while maintaining economic activity in the Great Bear Rainforest.’

The agreement — which will preserve another 500,000 hectares of old growth — increases forest protection to nearly 70 per cent in the mid-coast region from the 50 per cent level already protected by 2009. The addition pushes the amount of old-growth forest preserved to more than three million hectares, an area larger than Metro Vancouver.

An 82 page submission from the ‘Joint Solutions Project,’ a working group of environmental groups and forest companies that includes Western Forest Products, Interfor, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, BC Timber Sales and Catalyst, and three environmental groups ForestEthics, Greenpeace and Sierra Club of BC, contains numerous recommendations.

The submission proposes that additional areas be set aside for conservation, that harvest levels be adjusted to maintain viable forestry operations, and advocates a new approach to landscape planning that better accounts for old growth, cultural values, biodiversity and riparian zones.

The process of protecting the central coast began in 2001 with then-premier Gordon Campbell. At that time environmentalists around the world were putting the pressure on B.C. to act by a campaign against provincial forest products, and by 2009 large areas of the Great Bear were under protection.

The recommendations will now be evaluated by the Province, Nanwakolas Council and Coastal First Nations. The government has reconciliation agreements with both these groups of First Nations. In addition, 12 other First Nations will need to be consulted since they also have traditional territory in the Great Bear Rainforest. Ministry staff will review the recommendations for legislative and fiscal implications and implications to other resource users, and First Nations will review for implications to their interests.

Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt said they don’t expect to call for massive changes. Sterritt also noted that several First Nations hold tenures in the mid-coast area and will also want to protect the eco-system while participating in logging. But, he also pointed out that expects some conflict between the First Nations and industry on which areas to protect and which to log.

“We are pleased that the Joint Solutions Project has completed its work,” said Sterritt. “Coastal First Nations will now take this report to our  communities for review and discussion prior to finalizing legal  objectives with the Province for the Great Bear Rainforest.”

ForestEthics senior campaigner Valerie Langer said this is the final step in protecting the Great Bear Rainforest. “There’s never been any conservation of this scale achieved. To do this in a collaborative way with unlikely allies over an area the size of some countries, and to both protect the forest and maintain viability of an industry, is a great achievement,” she said.

Industry officials are also in support of the recommendations, reflecting on past conflicts that made it seem that an agreement of this type would be impossible to reach.

“This has been a long time coming. It was not just done in the last week, or last month,” said Interfor vice-president and chief forester Ric Slaco. “This looks to be the final chapter. That’s a big deal.”

Government is also pleased with the outcome. “I congratulate the forest companies and environmental groups for their continued cooperation and efforts in finding solutions thatmanage both the environment and local economies in this unique region of the world,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource  Operations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Ten-year sentence for man convicted of B.C. belt-strangling death

Shayne McGenn guilty of manslaughter in 2016 death of David Delaney, 63

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Most Read