Canada Strikes Landmark Deal to Protect Over 9 Million Acres of Rainforest

Ten years of negotiation led to the historic agreement.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, the Canadian government struck a landmark deal with indigenous communities, environmental groups, and logging companies to protect 9.1 million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest on the British Columbia coastline.

The deal, which was accomplished after 10 years of lobbying and negotiation, will permanently protect 85 percent of the rainforest from logging. The other 15 percent will be available for commercial logging, but under a sustainable plan that will carefully conserve the rainforest’s ecosystem, reports The Huffington Post.

“In other places in the world, people are fighting to protect 1 or 2 percent [of the environment],” said Richard Brooks, the forest campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Canada. “To be able to accomplish something on this scale ... set aside forever, that means the vast majority of the old-growth forest will continue to live on.”

According to the CBC, the deal follows a period of deep conflict between the First Nations—the name for Canada’s indigenous groups—and timber companies. Both parties agreed to protect the forest in 2006, which led to the decade-long process of negotiations that has finally been resolved this week.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth, and is home to the rare Spirit Bear, a subspecies of the black bear characterized by its cream-colored fur. It has also housed 26 First Nations for more than 10,000 years, according to Chief Marilyn Slett, president of the Coastal First Nations.

Jens Wieting of Sierra Club BC, one of the environmental groups involved, said the deal will allow for “long-term prosperity” for the wildlife, rainforest, and the economy.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is now a landscape of hope,” he said. “It is a landscape where economic activity will again begin to align with nature’s limits.”

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