After more than a decade of negotiations, a historic agreement has been signed that will protect large portions of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Premier Christy Clark announced today 85% of the north and central coastal regions will be permanently protected from logging.
“The Great Bear Rainforest is, there is no question, a jewel in the crown of magnificent landscapes in BC and it’s a jewel for all Canadians. It covers 6.4 million hectares, that’s an area of land the same size as Ireland.”
The remaining 15% will be subject to what the government calls the most stringent logging standards in the world.
26 First Nations reside in the area and were involved in the negotiations.
Coastal First Nations President Chief Marilyn Slett says this is a big day.
“Our communities clearly and constantly stated over the years there must be a balance between development and long term preservation and conservation of land, wildlife and our ecosystems.”
Notably as a part of the agreement, the commercial grizzly bear hunt will cease in the traditional territories of the coastal first nations.
The decade of negotiations that spawned today’s agreement are rooted in a period of intense conflict between forest company’s, first nations and environmental groups in the 1990’s, which was dubbed the “War in Woods”. Mass arrests of activists made headlines around the world, leading to boycott campaigns. The campaign was dropped in 2001 when logging companies agreed to suspend operations in the Rainforest.