Great Bear Rainforest

Coordinates: 53°0′0″N 128°0′0″W / 53.00000°N 128.00000°W / 53.00000; -128.00000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Great Bear Rainforest
Lowland forests of Kitlope Heritage Conservancy
Map showing the location of Great Bear Rainforest
Map showing the location of Great Bear Rainforest
LocationBritish Columbia, Canada
Coordinates53°0′0″N 128°0′0″W / 53.00000°N 128.00000°W / 53.00000; -128.00000[1]
Area64,000 km2 (25,000 sq mi)
Established19 May 2016
Ecosystem(s)British Columbia mainland coastal forests

The Great Bear Rainforest [2][3] is a temperate rain forest on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, comprising 6.4 million hectares.[4] It is part of the larger Pacific temperate rainforest ecoregion, which is the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world.[3][5]

The Great Bear Rainforest was officially recognized by the Government of British Columbia in February 2016, when it announced an agreement to permanently protect 85% of the old-growth forested area from industrial logging.[6][7] The forest was admitted to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in September of the same year.


Map of the Great Bear Rainforest

The size of the Great Bear Rainforest, also called the North and Central Coast land use planning area or the Central and North Coast LRMP area, is roughly 32,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi).[8] As part of the 2006 North and Central Coast Land Use Decision three new land use zones were created: Protected Areas; Biodiversity, Mining, and Tourism Areas (BMTAs); and Ecosystem-based Management Operating Areas (EBMs). As of 2009, approximately 16,000 km2 (6,200 sq mi) of the region has been designated as protected areas (in a form called conservancies[9]), and 3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi) as BMTAs. Commercial timber harvesting and commercial hydro-electric power projects are prohibited within BMTAs.[10][11]

The Great Bear Rainforest extends from the Discovery Islands in the south to the BC-Alaska boundary in the north,. It includes all offshore islands within this range except Vancouver Island and the archipelago of Haida Gwaii.[1] Its northern end reaches up Portland Canal to the vicinity of Stewart. To the south it includes Prince Rupert, most of Douglas Channel, half of Hawkesbury Island, and part of Gardner Canal. Kitimat is outside the region, to the east. Farther south, the region includes all of the coast west and south of the Fiordland Conservancy, Kitlope Heritage Conservancy Protected Area, Tweedsmuir North and Tweedsmuir South Provincial Parks—which includes Dean Channel, Burke Channel, Rivers Inlet, and the communities of Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Hagensborg. The southern end of the region includes Knight Inlet and Bute Inlet.[12][13]


The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world.[14] The area is home to species such as cougars, wolves, salmon, grizzly bears, and the Kermode ("spirit") bear, a unique subspecies of the black bear, in which one in ten cubs displays a recessive white coloured coat.

The forest features 1,000-year-old western red cedar and 90-metre tall Sitka Spruce.[15]

Coastal temperate rainforests are characterized by their proximity to both ocean and mountains. Abundant rainfall results when the atmospheric flow of moist air off the ocean collides with mountain ranges. Much of the Pacific coastline of North America shares this climate pattern, including portions of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.


Campaign for Protection[edit]

The temperate rainforests of the Central and North Coast of mainland BC were largely unknown to conservationists as late as the 1980’s. Then Peter McAllister, an ex-chair of the Sierra Club of Western Canada,[16] veteran forest campaigner [17] [18] and early advocate for boycotts against the timber industry [19], [20] [21] [22] [23] [11] chartered a two-masted ship, the North Star of Herschel Island [24] and sailed north from Victoria in the summer of 1990 with a crew of environmentalists. Their mission was to begin exploring, researching and bringing recognition to the ecological and cultural values of a significant expanse of the earth’s temperate rainforest. They alone conducted the campaign to bring protection to the Great Bear Rainforest until 1996 when many of the environmental organizations involved in the struggle to save Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island began to join the campaign. [25] [26] [27]

The first order of business on every voyage was to offer support to the coastal First Nations in their struggle to take back their traditional territory from the timber industry. [28] [29] The inaugural expedition led immediately to the protection of the threatened Koeye River watershed, one of the most ecologically and culturally significant river systems on the Central Coast. [30][31]

The expedition voyages took on board an international array of journalists, filmmakers, photographers, scientists and conservationists. [32] [33] [34] Commencing with the third expedition in 1993, Peter’s family including Ian McAllister, Karen McAllister,and Bernadette Mertens McAllister became valuable team members.[35] Mike Humphries, a WWII fighter pilot flew aerial reconnaissance, enhancing the documentation of remote logging operations while offering a birds eye view of a landscape as large as Switzerland. [36] [37](“Raincoast: North Among the Fjords”). In 1994 evidence of a grizzly bear slaughter precipitated an expose of the threatened bear population.[38] [39]

Stories of these first years of the campaign were presented in slide shows in Western North America and Europe while those on board spread the word in newspapers, articles, journals and magazines. [40] [41] [42] Articles and film documentaries brought international condemnation and the cancellation of contracts with pulp and paper producers. [43] [44] [45]("Battle for the Trees"). In 1994 Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club with a circulation 500,000 went public with the headlines “Magazine wants no part of B.C. pulp”,[46] Excerpts from an award winning film festival documentary depicting massive clearcutting were picked up by Turner Broadcasting (CNN) and PBS. [47] [48] (“Legacy: Killing a Temperate Rainforest”). Hon. Jup Weber, MP of Luxembourg, a leader of the Greens, and an outspoken critic of the province’s logging practices, invited Peter McAllister to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to present evidence of the relentless over-cutting of the coastal temperate rainforest countering decades of denials by the provincial government and the timber industry. [49] [50]

Evolution of the name “Great Bear Rainforest”. First it was publicized as the Hidden Coast” and the “Raincoast.” [51] [52] In 1993 the flagship organization representing their campaign was registered as the “Raincoast Conservation Society.” [53] Expeditions became known as “Raincoast Expeditions.” [54] In 1993 after the third expedition Peter McAllister came up with the first use of the “Great Bear” name in honour of the coastal grizzlies that held dominion over the unlogged salmon rivers. “Great Bear Wilderness” made its appearance in a 1994 Raincoast Conservation Society publication. [55] [56] In 1996 Ian McAllister added “Rainforest” to the “Great Bear” name when the Raincoast Conservation Society met with Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco to develop their international market campaign strategy. [57]

Subsequently Raincoast’s aerial reconnaissance photography was used to convince major home building suppliers to threaten logging companies invading Heiltsuk territory with boycotts. This action was a catalyst forcing the provincial government and the timber industry to come to the table for the beginning of a long process of negotiations involving the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. [58] [59] [60]“Watershed: Canada’s Threatened Rainforest” (“Great Bear Rainforest- Ethan Sing / Peter Mcallister”).

A Kermode bear from the Great Bear Rainforest

In May 2004, after years of conflict and negotiation, the various stakeholders agreed to recommend the BC government that about 3,500,000 acres (14,000 km2), about 33% of the Great Bear Rainforest, be put under some form of protection, and that new forms of ecosystem-based forestry be required throughout the rainforest. This fell short of the scientific recommendations, which had concluded that 44%–70% should be protected. The recommendation given to the BC government was a compromise solution agreed to by the many stakeholders after years of difficult negotiations.[61] The stakeholders include provincial and local governments; many BC First Nations such as the Heiltsuk and Homalco; the ENGOs Greenpeace, ForestEthics, Rainforest Action Network, Pacific Wild, and Sierra Club BC and forestry corporations such as Canadian Forest Products, Catalyst Paper Corporation, International Forest Products, Western Forest Products; and many others.[62]

On 7 February 2006 a comprehensive protection package was announced for the Great Bear Rainforest, which was defined to include the central and north coasts of BC and Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement included four key elements: rainforest protection, improved logging practices, the involvement of First Nations in decision making, and conservation financing to enable economic diversification. The final agreement banned logging in 33% of the Great Bear Rainforest and made a commitment to implement ecosystem-based forestry management for the entire Great Bear Rainforest by 2009.[61]

The 2006 agreement between the BC government and a wide coalition of conservationists, loggers, hunters, and First Nations established a series of conservancies stretching 400 kilometres (250 mi) along the coast.[63] The proposed protected areas will contain 18,000 square kilometres (6,900 sq mi), and another 46,900 square kilometres (18,100 sq mi) that is to be run under a management plan that is expected to ensure sustainable forest management.[63]

The Canadian government announced on 21 January 2007 that it will spend CA$30 million for protection of this rainforest. This matches a pledge made previously by the British Columbia provincial government, as well as private donations of $60 million, making the total funding for the new reserve $120 million.[64]

In the autumn of 2008, Greenpeace, Sierra Club BC and ForestEthics (jointly known as Rainforest Solutions Project) launched an online campaign titled, "Keep the Promise," to put public pressure on Gordon Campbell, then Premier of British Columbia, to honour the Great Bear Rainforest agreement in its entirety. The groups were concerned certain aspects of the agreement, including implementation of ecosystem-based management (EBM), would not materialize in time for the government's own final implementation deadline of March 31, 2009.[65]

Government recognition and protection[edit]

Coast Mountains along Grenville Channel

Premier Christy Clark announced on February 1, 2016, that an agreement had been reached between the government of British Columbia, First Nations, environmentalists, and the forestry industry to protect 85% of the 6.4 million hectare Great Bear Rainforest from industrial logging.[6][7] The remaining 15% would still be subject to logging under stringent conditions. The agreement also recognizes aboriginal rights to shared decision-making and provides a greater economic share of timber rights and $15-million in funding to 26 First Nations in the area.[6][66][67]

The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act was introduced by cabinet on March 1, 2016.[68] In September, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, visited and unveiled a plaque in the forest acknowledging its admission into The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.[69]

Fuel Spill[edit]

On 13 October 2016, a tugboat hauling an empty tanker barge ran aground on a reef just off the coast of Athlone Island in Seaforth Channel (52°08′29″N 128°11′53″W / 52.141334°N 128.198055°W / 52.141334; -128.198055 (Fuel spill near Athlone Island, BC)). The reef was located in the traditional territorial waters of the Heiltsuk First Nation and within the larger Great Bear Rainforest. The tug leaked over 100,000 litres of diesel fuel and sank into the channel. By 26 October, the fuel tanks of the tug were emptied and about 101,131 litres of oily water was recovered.[70][71] The fuel spill was the last major incident to occur in the region since BC Ferries' Queen of the North ran aground and sank off the coast of Gill Island on 21 March 2006.[72]

Public outcry over the incident coupled with increased interest in preserving the ecological integrity of the rainforest helped to spur the passage of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act on 21 June 2019, which prohibits any oil tanker from docking at any port along the North Coast of British Columbia.[73][74]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Great Bear Rainforest". BC Geographical Names.
  2. ^ "Great Bear Rainforest". British Columbia Integrated Land Management Bureau. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Great Bear Rainforest (formerly Coast Land Use Decision Implementation)". British Columbia Integrated Land Management Bureau. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  4. ^ "Legislation supports innovative forest management in Great Bear Rainforest". Government of British Columbia. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  5. ^ Hunter, Justine (2019-03-25). "Final agreement reached to protect B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  6. ^ a b c Hunter, Justine (1 February 2016). "Final agreement reached to protect B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  7. ^ a b Morrow, Fiona (1 February 2016). "Great Bear Rainforest agreement creates 'a gift to the world'". CBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Harbour Publishing - The Great Bear Rainforest". Archived from the original on 2006-01-28.
  9. ^ "Conservancies". BC Parks. Archived from the original on 2010-03-23. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  10. ^ "EBM Protects Coastal Jobs, Culture and Environment" (PDF). BC Integrated Land Management Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  11. ^ "Central and North Coast EBM Implementation - Biodiversity, Mining and Tourism Areas". British Columbia Ministry of Natural Resource Operations. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Map of Conservancies and Biodiversity Mining and Tourism Areas" (PDF). BC Integrated Land Management Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Map of Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) boundary" (PDF). BC Integrated Land Management Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Great Bear Rainforest". Living Oceans Society. June 8, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  15. ^ "Great Bear Rainforest". Greenpeace. July 10, 2003. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
  16. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing pp. 72-73
  17. ^ Young, Cameron (December 1989) BC Business, Is This Man the Enemy? “Environmentalist Peter McAllister relentlessly dogs the forest companies’ every move. Just what does he want?” BC Business
  18. ^ Young, Cameron (May 26-June 1988) , “His old corporate cronies may think he has switched sides. But Peter McAllister says working as a leading environmental lobbyists is just good business”. SIERRA PADRE, Monday Magazine
  19. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing pp 72-73
  20. ^ Tafler, Sid (August 30-December 5, 1990), “The European Connection” Monday Magazine
  21. ^ Wickens, Barbara with Hal Quinn, (May 13, 1991) “A Powerful Screen Attack” p. 36 Maclean’s Magazine
  22. ^ Quinn, Hal, (June 10, 1991) A clear-cut fight: “B.C. logging g becomes an international issue” Maclean’s Magazine
  23. ^ (June 30, 1991) Time Colonist, European boycott latest tactic in clearcut battle
  24. ^ MacFarlane, John M and Johansson, Sven, (Summer 1991) The North Star p. 17, Last of the Western Arctic Eskimo trapping schooners is still making a contribution after being rescued from a beach on Banks Island”, Maritime Museum of British Columbia
  25. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p 151
  26. ^ Howard, Coric (Monday November 15, 1993) San Francisco Chronicle, Alarm Grows Over Clear-Cutting on Majestic Coast, Fr.p A10
  27. ^ Engstrom, Karen, (Thursday, October 28, 1993) Chicago Tribune, Tempo, Cutting to the Quick, Sec. 5
  28. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p 151
  29. ^ Tafler, Sid, (Dec. 2-8, 1993) The Heiltsuk Connection “How a tribal park land and one determined Victoria man could shift the battle over forestry to the mainland coast” Monday Magazine
  30. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing pp. 148-149
  31. ^ Little, R.W., (April 1991) Koeye River Watershed Wilderness Reserve Proposal
  32. ^ (January/February 1994) Canada’s Secret Forests “THE CHAINSAWS DRAW NEAR” Before the FALL, SIERRA, THE MAGAZINE OF THE SIERRA CLUB
  33. ^ Howard, Cori (Monday, November 15 1993) "Alarm Grows Over Clear-Cutting on Majestic Coast" San Francisco Chronicle
  34. ^ Lavoie, Judith, (Friday, May 27, 1994), Crusader: "Clearcut carnage threatens rainforest valleys" Times Colonist
  35. ^ Harvey, Roy, (Thursday, September 16, 1993) Where salmon is king: “Nature’s bounty is the anchor of the schooner North Star’s meals” Chicago Tribune
  36. ^ Pinch, Diane, (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p. 150
  37. ^ Cowell, Douglas (November/December 1995) Forgotten Forest, CANADIAN WILDLIFE Documentary Film: “Raincoast: North Among the Fjords”
  38. ^ McAllister, Peter, (September 1995) “Canadian Chain Saw Massacre” Translation of Das Kanada-Kettennsagenmassaker BBC WILDLIFE WWF Germany
  39. ^ McAllister, Peter,(Spring 1996) “History has taught us that we rarely come to the rescue of any species until it is too late”, the GRIZZLY BEARS of the COASTAL RAINFOREST VALLEYS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Raincoast Conservation Society publication
  40. ^ McAllister, Peter, (March 29, 1995) Presentation, House of Representatives, Berlin, Germany
  41. ^ Maxwell, Jessica, (January-February 1994) The Last Best Rainforest: “Clearcuts in British Columbia have roused Canadians to Action” AUDUBON
  42. ^ Genovali, Christopher, (Summer 1995) Beyond Clayoquot Sound, EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL
  43. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p 72
  44. ^ Gill, Dominic, (October 1, 1992) “Front-ranking British publisher cancels plans to buy B.C. newsprint” LOOT says “No”, London’s Notice Board
  45. ^ Edgentin, John, Film Documentary, "Battle for the Trees"
  46. ^ Hamilton, Gordon, (Wednesday, February 2, 1994) SIERRA: Magazine Wants No Part of B.C. Pulp: Other environmental publications are likely to follow suit, “Sierra says it has ended its odious British Columbia Connection” The Vancouver Sun
  47. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p 150
  48. ^ Film Documentary LEGACY: Killing a Temperate Rainforest
  49. ^ Pinch, Diane (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p 172
  50. ^ Speech to the Members of the European Parliament, June 16, 1993
  51. ^ Seattle Audubon Society, BRITISH COLUMBIA’S RAINFORESTS: THE Hidden Coast
  52. ^ Fall 1994, WildEARTH: Raincoast Wilderness
  53. ^ Raincoast Conservation Society: Society Act, Annual Report, June 22, 1993
  55. ^ CANADIAN Raincoast Wilderness, A Raincoast Coast Conservation Society Publication, 1994
  56. ^ Pinch Diane, (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p. 148
  57. ^ 2002 World Rainforest Award, Peter Mcallister and Ian McAllister Rainforest Heroes, Rainforest Action Network
  58. ^ Pinch, Diane, (2019) Passion and Persistence: Fifty Years of the Sierra Club in British Columbia, Harbour Publishing p. 148
  59. ^ Saturday, January 22, 2000 THE GLOBE AND MAIL, U.S. Environmentalists target Canada
  60. ^ Great Bear Rainforest- Ethan Sing / Peter Mcallister
  61. ^ a b Esbjörn-Hargens, Sean; Zimmerman, Michael E. (2009). Integral ecology: uniting multiple perspectives on the natural world. Shambhala Publications. p. 471. ISBN 978-1-59030-466-2. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  62. ^ "Province announces a new vision for coastal B.C." British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  63. ^ a b Struck, Doug (2006-02-07). "Huge Canadian Park Is Born of Compromise". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  64. ^ "Canada acts to protect rainforest". BBC News Online. January 22, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
  65. ^ "Environmentalist turns to online campaign to protect B.C. forest". CBC News. November 28, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
  66. ^ "Coast Land Use Decision Implementation". BC Strategic Land and Resource Planning. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  67. ^ "Proposed 2015 Great Bear Rainforest Order and Potential Biodiversity, Mining and Tourism Areas / Conservancy Designations". BC Strategic Land and Resource Planning. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  68. ^ "B.C. legislation to halt logging in much of Great Bear Rainforest". The Globe and Mail. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  69. ^ "Royals endorse Great Bear Rainforest as part of Queen's Commonwealth Canopy". CBC. September 26, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  70. ^ "Bella Bella". Western Canada Marine Response Corporation. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  71. ^ Lindsay, Bethany (October 14, 2016). "Diesel fears after tug and petroleum barge run aground near Bella Bella". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  72. ^ "Queen of the North". Western Canada Marine Response Corporation. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  73. ^ Zada, John (November 16, 2016). "Canadian First Nation cleans up latest fuel spill mess: Fuel spill in Canada's Great Bear Rainforest adds to pressure to cut fuel transport lines on Pacific Coast". British Columbia: Al Jazeera. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  74. ^ "Oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast". 2019-06-21. Retrieved 2020-10-06.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]