British Columbia unveils deal regarding coastal rainforest

By Dani Dagan

©Maximilian Helm

After 10 years of negotiations between government, private, and aboriginal groups, British Columbia has announced a deal regarding the management of a large area of rainforest along its coastline. The agreement removes about 85% of the Great Bear Rainforest from logging operations, and places the remaining land under stricter logging standards. The rare spirit bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), a subspecies of black bear with white fur and claws, is found in the region and helped motivate these forest management changes.

Logging in this area became a highly contentious issue during the 1990s, resulting in occupation and boycott campaigns. Then in the year 2000, a coalition between forestry companies and environmental groups was formed, suspending both logging and the resistance movement. Meanwhile, the province and First Nations engaged in discussions about the same issue. Six years later, all of those groups agreed to work together to address management of the Great Bear Rainforest. The decade since has involved negotiations that eventually resulted in the deal announced on February 1.

Territories of 26 First Nations overlap the Great Bear Rainforest, and they were all involved in negotiations. This decision may give First Nations precedent for opposing future development of their lands. Additionally, this deal ends commercial grizzly bear hunts on First Nation territories.

Sources: CBC News (Feb 1, 2016), Reuters (Feb 1, 2016)