A new victory for the NRDC, ForestEthics, Greenpeace Canada, the Rainforest Action Network and Sierra Club-British Columbia: The government of British Columbia has agreed to protect more than 5 million acres (see map below) of the Great Bear coastal rainforest. It is home to the world's last white-colored Spirit Bears (which the NRDC picked as its logo), and one of the NRDC's first "BioGems" (learn more about that here). But it wasn't easy: The fight for what is one of the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world started almost 10 years ago in 1997, and we can only congratulate all those who helped; it was a consumer-driven campaign with petitions to local officials, Canadian logging companies and their US clients. The campaign brought six timber companies to the table and resulted in pledges from Home Depot, Lowe's and more than 200 other leading U.S. retailers to stop selling wood products made from Great Bear Rainforest trees.
Some choice cuts from the NRDC's announcement:
The thousand-year-old red cedars, Sitka spruce, western hemlock and balsam blanketing this swath of rugged coastline provide vital habitat for wolves, eagles, grizzlies and several hundred Spirit Bears. Found only in the Great Bear Rainforest, the Spirit Bear gets its white color from a recessive gene occurring in roughly one of every ten black bears born in the forest. The Spirit Bear figures prominently in the mythology and culture of several indigenous communities -- known as First Nations in Canada -- that have inhabited the Great Bear Rainforest for thousands of years.
The new conservation agreement, negotiated directly by the British Columbia government and the region's First Nations, will protect an unspoiled area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park from logging and ensure the right of the First Nations to manage their traditional territories. In addition, the agreement establishes new, more stringent standards for logging in the rainforest outside of the protected area. "The accord will preserve this irreplaceable rainforest but still allow for controlled logging to sustain local economies," said NRDC senior attorney Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. "It is a new model that shows we can save our most valuable wildlands and our communities at the same time."
Once again, bravo! And while we're on the subject of citizen action, we'd like to remind you about a project by the NRDC that we support: The Move Beyond Oil campaign. We'd really appreciate it if you could sign the petition here. Thanks.