Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Province, First Nations and Industry sign Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

6.4 million hectares will make up the
Great Bear Rainforest as part of
an agreement signed Monday
An agreement almost twenty years in development was signed on Monday, creating what is described as eco-system based management in the Great Bear Rainforest, an area which will cover 6.4 million hectares from the Central and North Coast.

Home to 26 separate First Nations, the new Great Bear Rainforest land-use order, will achieve its goal of ecological integrity by protecting 70 per cent of the old growth forest in the management areas, up from the current level of 50 percent.

Eight new special forest management areas covering almost 295,000 hectares will be completely off limits to logging, while ongoing discussions with First Nations could see an additional six areas provided with additional protection.

From these new measures, 85 per cent of the forest will now be protected, with 15 per cent to remain available for logging along the coast.  A number of protocols have also been signed with a number of First Nations to address their concerns on cultural heritage resources, freshwater ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

As part of the agreement, the commercial grizzly bear hunt will  come to an end in Coastal First Nations' traditional territories.

The Great Bear Rainforest process began with the first land and resources management planning meetings in 1997, starting what became nineteen years of conversation, public comment and land use legislation.

With the agreement in place now, the Provincial Government has announced plans to introduce supporting legislation to the agreement, a process which should be introduced in the Legislature later this spring.

The managed forest component of the Great Bear Rainforest will consist of 1.36 million acres, where the harvesting of old growth and second growth forest will using an ecosystem based management plan.

Other land use in the Great Bear Rainforest will see the following designations:

1.2 million acres protected as Parks and Protected areas, 

3.7 million acres designated as conservancies, 

764,000 acres located to Biodiversity, Mining and tourism Areas. 

While 675,000 acres will be set aside as Special Forest Management Areas, where hydroelectric generation, mining and tourism development will be allowed as long as it maintains ecological integrity.

More background on the land use aspects of the Agreement can be found here.

You can also review Monday's Agreement announcement here.

Both North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and MP Nathan Cullen celebrated the signing of the Monday's Final Agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, taking to their social media pages to share their thoughts.

More background and reaction to the Great Bear Rainforest agreement can be found below:

Great Bear Rainforest pact is  a 'jewel in the crown' of Canada's protected areas
Final agreement reached to protect B. C.'s Great Bear Rainforest
Key players in Great Bear Rainforest deal find common ground
Great Bear Rainforest agreement creates 'a gift to the world'
Logging banned in most of B. C.'s Great Bear Rainforest
Landmark deal protects huge swath of central B. C. coast from logging
Getting to know more about the Great Bear Rainforest
Most of B. C.'s Great Bear Rainforest protected
'Solutions Are Possible' : Great Bear Rainforest Land-Use Deal Reached
The Great Bear Rainforest, B.C.’s new, giant protected area is a truce between loggers, greens

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