Premier Christy Clark

Premier Christy Clark

Coastal rainforest pact to be made law

Named Great Bear Rainforest by protesters, vast region now 85 per cent protected from logging

The B.C. government is preparing legislation to formalize its 10-year project to protect and share logging management on a vast area of the B.C. coast with forest companies and 26 coastal First Nations.

The agreement puts 85 per cent of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest off limits to logging, and also makes permanent a ban on commercial grizzly bear hunting that was announced for much of the central and north coast region in 2009.

Including Haida Gwaii, the Great Bear Rainforest agreement covers 6.4 million hectares on B.C.’s central and north coast, an area about twice the size of Vancouver Island.

The final version of the long-sought agreement increases the amount of protected old-growth forest from 50 to 70 per cent, in addition to large areas of second growth. It adds eight new special forest management areas covering 295,000 hectares where logging is not permitted.

“Ecosystem-based management is the modern term to describe what we have always done,” said Chief Marilyn Slett, president of the Coastal First Nations, which includes the Haida Nation, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Heiltsuk and other communities on the north coast.

Dallas Smith, president of the Nanwakolas Tribal Council representing central coast communities, praised the co-operation of industry and government for the forest land use and a companion marine protection agreement that still requires federal approval.

“I stand here today proud, happy, but still a little bit upset that it’s taken this long,” Smith said.

Rick Jeffery, representing the industry group of Interfor, Catalyst, Western Forest Products and the provincial agency B.C. Timber Sales, said the agreement means an end to conflict and protest, with stable access to 550,000 hectares of forest harvest land.

“We know now where we can operate and what the running rules are,” Jeffrey said.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson said the B.C. government will provide $15 million over five years to help aboriginal communities start their own forest companies. The deal also turns over forest carbon credit rights to First Nations, which could be sold as offsets for natural gas development.

Richard Brooks of Greenpeace Canada said when environmentalists began to push for preservation of the region, 95 per cent of the forest was available for logging, and now 85 per cent is protected.

The agreement formally began in 2006 when a land use plan covering about a third of the region was adopted, and work started on a compromise between industry, First Nations and environmental groups that had been organizing boycotts of B.C. forest products.

The B.C. and federal governments put up $30 million each to create a larger plan using “ecosystem-based management” and aboriginal rights.

The U.S. Nature Conservancy put up a matching $60 million, raised mainly from U.S. private foundations, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Wilberforce Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Environmental groups Greenpeace, Sierra Club and ForestEthics represented the foundations, and have since argued that too much old-growth forest would continue to be logged under the plan.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

A new daycare at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is slated to open in September. (Rendering courtesy of West Shore Parks and Recreation)
Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre brings daycare centre to Colwood

New centre to offer 80 spaces come September

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia’s Float the Boat fundraiser campaign is underway. The goal is to raise $25,000 in donations to help with the cost of running virtual programs and onsite operations. (Courtesy Maritime Museum of B.C.)
Maritime Museum of B.C. looks to Float the Boat in Victoria

Fundraiser proceeds will support multitude of virtual programs and onsite operations

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Mountain bikers lining up for Hartland’s newest trail

Revamped black diamond run ‘what the community needed’

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read