Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


BC government orders short-term protection in the Great Bear Rainforest

May 22, 2002

(Vancouver, BC) – On May 22, the BC cabinet formalized interim protection of the 20 intact rainforest valleys identified in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. In this first step toward more permanent protection, the government established executive Orders In Council that safeguard these valleys from logging and development through June 30, 2003.

This period will allow First Nations time to complete planning processes for their ancestral lands, and ensure that both protection priorities and economic opportunities for their communities are fully explored. It also gives the Coast Information Team, an independent team of scientists and economists, time to undertake ecological and socio-economic analysis to develop regional land-use options.

However, environmental groups are concerned that the language of the Orders In Council allows for road development in the 20 valleys if logging or mining interests seek access to adjacent areas. To ensure the fragile ecosystem of these intact valleys is truly protected, the BC government must deny applications for road development.

Next year, these 20 valleys would be expected to move into permanent protection, while permitting forms of use that fully maintain ecological and cultural values. Final approval will rest with First Nations and the provincial government.

ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club of British Columbia acknowledge the need for First Nations to direct planning on their lands and create sustainable economic opportunities that benefit the long-term health of their communities. The four groups remain committed to working with provincial and First Nations governments, and the forest industry, to forge real solutions and implement this groundbreaking agreement in its entirety.