Running 250 miles down the British Columbia, Canada, coast, the Great Bear Rainforest is a wild expanse of western cedars, hemlocks and spruce trees. This 21 million-acre area—whose boundaries have never been precisely defined—is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. Here, black bears, grizzly bears, spirit bears, whales and wolves find homes and sustenance in the mist-shrouded valleys, old-growth stands, glacier-cut fjords and rich marine channels.
Not only is the Great Bear Rainforest bursting with megafauna, it is flowing with flora, including invaluable medicinal plants. Because of its treasures, however, diverse stakeholders—such as loggers, environmentalists, local communities, ecotourism operators and governments—vie for the rights to use this natural resource. Luckily, in the past few years, all parties have come together to create an internationally recognized, groundbreaking model of conservation. In 2006 and 2009, a series of formal agreements were established to:
Protect 6.5 million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Set rules for lighter-touch logging, which currently require that 50 percent of the natural level of old-growth forest in the region be maintained. This translates into an additional 1.7 million acres of forest set aside from logging.
Make available to First Nations communities a $120 million fund to help start a new conservation economy as an alternative to logging and to help manage conservation efforts in their rainforest territories.
Establish new governance and decision-making protocols. A new relationship between First Nations and the British Columbia government gives indigenous people a say in resource management on their lands and puts in place new processes for collaboration.
While under the current rules 50 percent of the natural level of old forest must be maintained, ecology experts say that the Great Beat Rainforest will not be safe until 70 percent is preserved. The province and industry have agreed to this goal.
If you are able, I encourage you to travel to the Great Bear Rainforest and let its beauty speak to you firsthand about how important it is to protect it. In the meantime, however, I hope my photo journal, below, will begin to convince you.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,
A multiple award-winning author and writer specializing in nature-travel topics and environmental issues, Candice has traveled around the world, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, and from New Zealand to Scotland's far northern, remote regions. Her assignments have been equally diverse, from covering Alaska’s Yukon Quest dogsled race to writing a history of the Galapagos Islands to describing and photographing the national snow-sculpting competition in her home state of Wisconsin.In addition to being a five-time book author, Candice's work has also appeared in several national and international publications, such as "The Huffington Post" and "Outside Magazine Online." To read her web columns and see samples of her nature photography, visit her website at www.candiceandrews.com and like her Nature Traveler Facebook page at www.facebook.com/naturetraveler.
Good Nature is the official nature and adventure travel blog of Natural Habitat Adventures & WWF. We feature reports from the field, news about the natural world and thoughts from our accomplished writers and staff.