Yesterday was a great celebration in British Columbia, at the news that the Canadian rainforest is protected by a new deal. The premier was joined by numerous representatives of the forest industries, as well as environmental groups. The deal has also implemented a management based on ecosystems that will ensure the survival of the wonderful white and rare creatures named spirit bears.
The new Great Bear Rainforest order states that the ecological integrity will be achieved by increasing the scope of protected land from 50% to 70%. Additionally, about 295,000 hectares will be closed for logging since they will become forest management areas. As a result, people will still have access to logging in 15% of the forest in order to support local jobs, while the rest of 85% will become off-limits.
The agreement has also achieved a tremendous feat: the stop of grizzly bear hunting across the traditional territories of the Coastal First Nations. The so called spirit bears are actually Kermode bears and they inhabit the Great Bear Rainforest. Their white color occurs because of a double recessive gene of the American black bear. At the moment, it is estimated that less than four hundred such bears live in the area that spreads from the north of Vancouver Island to southeast Alaska.
Several decisions have led to the establishment of the Great Bear Rainforest in 2006. The forest belongs to 26 First Nations and covers a territory of 6.4 million hectares on the central and north coast of British Columbia. Its uniqueness has prompted the government of British Columbia to change old agreements with innovative elements. Furthermore, they are planning to introduce a supporting legislation this year as well.
The order regarding the use of the land refers to the cultural heritage resources of the First Nations, as well as the wildlife habitat and the freshwater ecosystems. The protected territory of the grizzly bear, tailed frog, northern goshawk, mountain goat and marbled murrelet is expected to be expanded as new reserves are created.
The president of the Coastal First Nations, Chief Marilyn Slett has stated that the global treasure of the Great Bear Rainforest has been the home for Haida Gwaii, North and Central Coast for over 10,000 years, and thus the best they can do is protect the habitat and take care of the lands and all of its resources. The fact that the Canadian rainforest is protected by a new deal is just the first step that was taken towards preserving nature and thus ourselves.
Image Source: The Nature Conservancy