On Canada's Pacific coast, between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska border, lies one of the earth's largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest: the 19-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest. Great Bear's amazingly diverse ecosystem is home to salmon, sea lions, eagles, wolves and bears, including the rare white Spirit Bear. It boasts gorgeous lakes and magnificent waterfalls, as well as giant cedars, Sitka spruce, western hemlock and balsam. For years, heavy logging has cut holes in its beauty and cast doubt on its future.
In February 2006, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement was announced to the world by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. The agreement had two cornerstones: a protected areas package and a commitment to bold new logging practices, known as Ecosystem-based Management. Under the deal, 4.4 million acres (1.8 million hectares)—nearly twice as large as Yellowstone National Park—is off limits to loggers and largely closed to mining exploration.
This agreement is now at risk as several key terms are not being met, making the future of the Great Bear Rainforest far from being secure. Currently, much of the Great Bear Rainforest is still subject to clearcutting, sport hunting, fish farming and mining. Increased protection will be required on the central and north coast if biodiversity is to be safeguarded in this globally significant region.
As for the kermode bear, these rare and beautiful bears are still afforded no legal protection from trophy hunters and face extinction. (White "spirit bear" populations now number less than 200) A number of influential conservation groups are however actively working in partnership with First Nations groups to pursue legislation to protect Spirit Bears and their habitat. It is to be hoped that this popular movement will receive government backing so that future generations may still be lucky enough to glimpse this rare and elusive spirit of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Please urge Premier Campbell to ensure the preservation of the magnificent fauna, including the rare white Spirit Bear and this gorgeous temperate rainforest habitat by supporting the Great Bear Rainforest campaign.
On Feb 7, 2006 a coalition of four leading environmental groups, along with industry leaders and indigenous groups, celebrated success after a decade long campaign to protect the globally unique Great Bear Rainforest. The long awaited government announcement protecting one third of the Great Bear Rainforest from logging and requiring the use of more sustainable logging practices for the remaining area had finally become a reality. This agreement also set a new precedent for decision making for local indigenous groups (First Nations), giving them the right to define what happens on their land.
This agreement is now at risk because a cornerstone of the agreement, Ecosystem-based Management, is faltering. Without this up and running, logging decisions are being made on a piecemeal basis. Today, logging threatens the future of ecologically important areas creating uncertainty in the Great Bear Rainforest – it is time to get down to work and act on these agreements.
Equally important, is the conservation of the rare (pure white) kermode bear. Biologists estimate a population of 1,200 spirit bears --of which only 400 are white phased.
Much of the spirit bear's historic territory is already logged, from River's Inlet at the south end of its range, to the Nass Valley in the north, and east up the Skeena River as far as Hazelton. On the mid-coast, large areas of the islands where the Kermode bears live – Princess Royal, Gribbell, Roderick and Pooley – have already been logged. The spirit bear's traditional home is already much diminished. The logging industry has extracted substantial commercial value from the range of the spirit bear even as the provincial government planning process was proceeding!
Please assure us that the government is taking steps to put these protections in place for the preservation of this most rare and beautiful forest and it's inhabitants.
Sincerely, The undersigned.