Breaking News: 85% of Great Bear Rainforest is now legally off limits to logging. The First Nations of the region and the province of British Columbia announced on February 1, 2016, the finalization of legal forest management and protection measures and community wellbeing agreements.
This comprehensive Ecosystem Based Management plan for healthy forests and communities makes the Great Bear Rainforest one of the world’s landscapes of hope.
After almost 20 years of intensive work moving from conflict to collaboration and negotiations the promise of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements has been realized.
Building the solutions had two parallel processes. Primarily, First Nations vigorously pursued their rights to be decision makers over their lands and resources and their opportunity to develop the economic and cultural health of their communities (which includes forest conservation and forestry). They successfully leveraged environmental organizations to formally support their struggle for recognition of rights. Over the past 10 years First Nations have established co-decision making for their territories with the Province along with agreements that advance their cultural and economic interests.
After pitted conflict on blockades and with market campaigns that cost the industry major losses in purchasing contracts in the Great Bear Rainforest (such as with Lowes, Staples and Home Depot) several environmental groups (ForestEthics included) and logging companies began talks – eventually forming the Joint Solutions Project (JSP). JSP worked to develop approaches and agreements for how to conserve the rainforests while maintaining a reduced, but viable logging industry in the region.
Solution proposals for how to do this were presented to government and First Nations decision makers in an iterative process to refine and adjust the proposals so that First Nations interests were better served.
The goal of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements was to achieve Ecosystems Based Management to maintain Ecological Integrity of the forests and achieve high levels of wellbeing for the communities. There are some imperfections to the final outcome but for the most part the goals will be met through implementing the new rules. The scale of conservation and the shift in benefits for communities firmly establishes the Great Bear Rainforest as a conservation legacy of global importance. It is a model the world can draw upon as it looks to simultaneously address of economic, social and conservation needs in other regions of conservation priority.
Primary architects of Ecosystem Based Management in the Great Bear Rainforest:
Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative - an alliance of Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk Nation, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation
Nanwakolas Council - an advocacy, technical and coordination support vehicle for member First Nations: Mamalilikulla Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em; Tlowitsis ; Da'naxda'xw Awaetlatla; Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw; We Wai Kum; Kwiakah, K'ómoks First Nations
Province of British Columbia
Rainforest Solutions Project – A joint initiative of ForestEthics, Greenpeace and Sierra Club BC with Tides Canada
Coast Forest Conservation Initiative a collaborative effort of BC Timber Sales, Interfor, Western Forest Products, Catalyst Paper, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper
You can find the technical documents that comprise the Great Bear Rainforest original science basis and the forestry management plan here: