Forest industry, First Nations, environmentalists and NGOs hope to end years of ‘war in the woods’
After years of conflict that featured blockades and market boycotts, environmental groups and the forest industry have finally agreed on what can be logged and what must be protected in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest.
A detailed plan has gone forward to the provincial government and 27 First Nations that reside in the area. If approved by those entities, it will lead to the protection of 70 per cent of the land base in a rugged coastal region that covers 6.4 million hectares on the mainland coast.
The agreement comes after two years of intensive negotiations between three environmental groups and five forest companies in what is known as the Joint Solutions Project. Those talks were preceded by years of protest which saw activists blocking roads and chaining themselves to logging equipment. A market campaign by Greenpeace in the United States and Europe finally brought industry to the table, leading to a groundbreaking deal in 2009 in which the B.C. government, First Nations, environmental groups and industry agreed to fully protect some areas, while following scientifically prescribed logging plans in others. In that broad agreement, about 50 per cent of the area was protected. The final deal increases the current protected area by 20 per cent.