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07 February 2006

humans (environmentalists, loggers, First Peoples, government) do something good for Earth

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The Independent (UK)

Tuesday 7 February 2006 20:11

Canada signs deal
with loggers
to save ancient rainforest

by Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Canada is to protect a vast swath of intact temperate rainforest along its Pacific coast, under an agreement unveiled yesterday between the British Columbia government, local indigenous peoples, environmental groups and major logging companies.

The unprecedented plan covers some 5,000,000 acres, or roughly a third, of the Great Bear rainforest, starting about 150 miles north of Vancouver and stretching as far as the Alaska border.

The area will be turned into a sanctuary for a host of species, including grizzly and black bears, as well as rare white "spirit" bears, wolves and wolverine, and eagles and other spectacular birds of prey. The glacier-etched fjords and rivers of the region are also spawning ground for 20 per cent of the world's wild salmon.

Under the agreement, the logging companies will be allowed to work the rest of the forest, but under strict rules designed to safeguard the region's ecosystem. Even in this semi-open area, specified tracts -- key valleys, animal breeding areas and fish rivers -- will be spared from the chainsaw entirely. "First Nation" native groups will have an expanded role in management of land that is part of their history and culture.

The deal comes after a decade of protests at the relentless encroachment by the timber industry, driven by the insatiable international demand for wood and paper products. The fate of Great Bear rainforest became an ecological rallying cry the world over. Under intense pressure from local and environmental groups, more than 80 US, European and Japanese hardware and furniture companies, including giants like Ikea and Home Depot, initiated a boycott of Great Bear products in the late 1990s.

The outcome is what both the industry and environmentalists say could be a model for the Amazon and other endangered forests. "The world's last ancient forests need a global network of protected areas to survive -- and the Great Bear rainforest is a good place to start," said Greenpeace.

The region accounts for a quarter of the world's remaining stock of temperate rainforest. In an area where annual rainfall can measure up to 15 feet, big forest fires are virtually unknown. This has allowed some of the world's largest and most ancient trees to flourish -- among them moss-draped cedars up to 1,000 years old.

But even this wilderness paradise had been threatened by erosion and other side-effects of unchecked logging in adjacent areas.

A feature of the deal is a $120,000,000 conservation fund that will finance environmental projects and eco-friendly businesses in First Nation territories. In the part of the forest where loggers are allowed to operate, they will do so according to new "ecosystem-based management" practices due to take effect in 2009.

Even the timber companies -- which in the short term at least have the most to lose from the new arrangements -- hailed the breakthrough. With the deal "we've started the transition from entitlement to collaboration," an industry spokesman said.

But as they celebrated a hard-won triumph, the environmental groups signalled they would remain on guard. Yesterday's announcement was a first step, said Greenpeace. "But the true measure of success will be signs of change on the ground and in the forest."

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Blogger Abbas Halai said...

yeah i read about this yesterday. though not too large, (the area is about the size of belgium, or three times the size of prince edward island), this is a step in the right direction in terms of conservation of species. go canada!

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Adults assume that conservation of the environment is a strictly Adult business. But actually the most important work humans do to save the Planet begins with early childhood education. Love for Nature begins in little heads.

Here's a beautiful survey about the Spirit Bear -- one out of ten of this subspecies in the Great Bear Rain Forest are White -- from a British Columbia elementary school class:

Thanks to their teachers, these kids are going to grow up to be stalwart Protectors of Nature.

The Spirit Bear is an "umbrella species." If humans can protect enough of its environment to keep the Spirit Bear population healthy, that means they've also protected hundreds of other species, many of them as endangered as the Spirit Bear.

Canadians tend to look south and see Americans as a rapacious, greedy culture that puts Nature and the Earth last. I can't honestly say this perception is Wrong, although the USA can point to some pretty stunning conservation achievements.

But certainly under the Bush administration, it's been Rapacity and Greed all the way. Google "sailormongering" and let me know if you find the Bush Administration's stellar moment in trying to rape the Earth. (They didn't succeed.)

The American body politic has a severe allergy to following the Canadian Plan about any issue. I wish we could take something to get over that allergy. Because on so many issues -- drug policies, the New American Gulag, the distribution of health resources, gun policies -- the USA has got it dead and dangerously wrong, Canada pursues a wise and humane path.

Blogger Newphew Kwak said...

Hey, Unky Munky, you should set up trackbacks. I'm posting to the Chelsea Green blog these days and am linking to Vleeptron and want to establish a trackback connection. Is there a reason not to?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

First you make me get a cell phone, then you make me get an iPod, then you teach me to snowboard, then you made me join a hiphop gang ... do you have any idea how OLD I am???

Well uhhh okay I've seen that word trackback, but what the heck is it and how do I Make It Happen?

I'm sorry I'm such a clueless teknodweeb.


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