Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Government Inaction Threatens Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

April 28, 2005

(Vancouver, BC) – Today, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and Sierra Club of Canada’s BC Chapter released their annual report card on the Great Bear Rainforest. The groups awarded dismal grades to the B.C. government and logging companies for not finalizing and implementing the consensus solutions package for the region, forged by First Nations and multiple stakeholders.

The B.C. government and coastal logging companies received a ‘D’ for protection and an ‘F’ for ecological management and planning. The report card follows disappointing news earlier this month that the B.C. government would not approve the consensus agreement prior to calling the election.

“Most British Columbians think the Great Bear Rainforest is protected because both the NDP and Liberal governments said they would do precisely that,” stated Merran Smith of ForestEthics. “Inaction threatens the stability of the agreements and leaves us no choice but to communicate these dismal grades to the Canadian public and international marketplace.”

The land-use planning tables for the north and central coasts reached consensus on protection, new logging practices, and socio-economic recommendations. The consensus packages were submitted to the Province and First Nations for final negotiation. All that the outcome required was a B.C. Government decision.

In a separate agreement, several large logging companies active in the region agreed to voluntarily implement a set of new planning and practices measures, as a way of demonstrating their commitment to real change. More than a year later, there is little evidence of that change.

“For years, all parties set aside confrontation in favour of negotiation. But a negotiated outcome cannot exist only on paper; it must be translated into action,” said Catherine Stewart of Greenpeace. “Government’s inaction coupled with the companies’ lack of change on the ground threatens a fragile five-year peace.”

“The marketplace will be dismayed by this sort of inaction,” said Rainforest Action Network’s Mike Brune.

The solutions package attracted conservation investments of over $100 million in non-government funding for First Nations and other communities, to be augmented by provincial and federal contributions. The lack of a decision jeopardizes economic development in a region where unemployment is as high as 80 percent.

“Government and independent studies have shown that economically and ecologically this solutions package is a better option for the region than business as usual,” stated Lisa Matthaus with Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter. “The question is, which of the parties vying to form government will make it a priority to act on the Great Bear Rainforest solutions package?”