It took more than 10 years of terse negotiating, protests, and debate, but last week a deal emerged for the Great Bear Rainforest, home of the rare Spirit Bear in the heart of Canada’s Coastal Rainforest, that analysts are calling not only a job well done, but also a model for the world.
The deal restricts and regulates logging in the Great Bear Rainforest to help protect the forest’s rare “Spirit Bear” and the area’s native people, the BBC reported. Logging will be banned across a huge area of the forest.
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Environmental campaigners say the deal is a model for resolving similar land-use disputes around the world. Indigenous tribes, timber firms and environmental groups in western Canada have welcomed a deal to protect one of the world’s largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest.
The Great Bear Rainforest on the Pacific coast of British Columbia is home to many animals and ancient trees.
The negotiators reached a partial agreement over forest use in 2006 that won a Gift to the Earth Award from the World Wildlife Fund. Difficult negotiations continued for the next 10 years.
The latest agreement halts logging throughout 85 percent of the forest, the other 15 percent can be logged at a rate of 0.1 percent under rules specifically designed for this forest at the negotiating table to protect economic opportunities for the locals, both indigenous and otherwise.
The deal prevents hunting of what some indigenous groups called the “Spirit Bear,” a rare, white-furred species of black bear. Commercial hunting of the grizzly bear on First Nations land is also stopped by the deal, although it continues on other lands, Reuters reported.
“Our leaders understand our well-being is connected to the well-being of our lands and waters,” said Chief Marilyn Slett, president of Coastal First Nations.
“One of the successes and magic about today is we’ve demonstrated to the world that collaboration and finding solutions can work,” said Rick Jeffery, the president of the Coast Forest Products Association.
The European Wilderness Society is congratulating!