As Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups work towards full implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, new threats loom over the mist-shrouded mountains and maze-like fjords of this stunning area.
On February 7, the sixth anniversary of the Great Bear agreements, Sierra Club BC and our partners, Greenpeace and Forest Ethics, called on Premier Clark to finish the job and protect the agreed-upon 70 percent of the rainforest's natural old growth. The science is clear that as long as only 50% of the Great Bear Rainforest is protected, the whole forest is still at risk. At least 70 per cent of the natural old growth of the Great Bear Rainforest needs to be off-limits to logging if we want to keep the forest alive.
In March 2009, the B.C. government, First Nations, logging companies and environmental organizations agreed to new milestones for the Great Bear. These milestones will strengthen conservation and improve human well-being in coastal communities. However, some of these milestones are seriously delayed, creating an urgent need to speed up the implementation process. Learn more.
Tar Sands Pipeline and Tanker Traffic
Enbridge Inc. is proposing to build a pipeline from the tar sands of northern Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. The pipeline would transport tar sands crude from Alberta to Kitimat, where it will be loaded onto supertankers destined for Asia and the US. At the same time, a second pipeline would bring condensate to Alberta, which is used to thin the bitumen so that it can be transported through pipes. More than 200 tankers a year—two to three per week—would weave a hazardous path through an obstacle course of narrow, reef-studded channels and inlets of B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Despite being an area named after its many species of bears—the heart of a healthy ecotourism industry—trophy hunting is still allowed in the Great Bear Rainforest. Sierra Club BC and other groups have asked the provincial government repeatedly to end the trophy hunt of bears. Astoundingly, the provincial government holds on to the trophy hunt with the same commitment that they showed when they reinstated the hunt as one of their first actions when assuming power in 2001.
Species At Risk
The B.C. government has done much in the past few years to implement the Great Bear plan. However, because of the delays in mapping critical habitat—months past deadline—forest companies may soon be submitting logging plans without incorporating this crucial information. The government must fulfill its commitment to map critical forests and species habitat as soon as possible, and keep the momentum going.
Land and Sea Together
What happens when we protect the forests but allow the ocean to be overfished, polluted and exposed to the threat of tanker traffic? An oil spill would devastate not just marine ecosystems and wildlife, it would be catastrophic to the rainforest ecosystems and wildlife that depend on the ocean and to the coastal First Nations who have been pulling their food from these waters for thousands of years.
This is alarming news for the ecological well-being of the Great Bear Rainforest and the inland waters of B.C.'s North Coast, rich with abundant marine life. Photographs taking during the Great Bear RAVE by the International League of Conservation Photographers highlight all that is at stake, for ecosystems, wildlife, and coastal communities. Learn more.