Rainforest Solutions Project

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


Great Bear Rainforest Two Years Later: BC Government Still Not Making the Grade

April 7, 2003

(Vancouver, BC) – Today, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter released their second annual Great Bear Rainforest Report Card, giving the BC government dismal grades on most aspects of its commitment to uphold the precedent-setting April 2001 agreement.

In 2001, environmental groups, First Nations, logging companies, workers, communities and the provincial government agreed to a new approach to conservation and sustainable management in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands). Now, the four environmental groups say Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government is sending mixed messages about their willingness to live up to the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement.

The groups had little choice but to award dismal grades on protection, planning and ecological management, First Nations’ rights and forest policy. While the government fared slightly better this year in the areas of science and managing economic change, the overall trend is still disappointing.

“The province may be upholding, for now, the letter of the agreement, but the constant delays and frequent attempts to undermine the process and their boosterism of unsustainable development belies any real commitment to change,” said Catherine Stewart of Greenpeace.

Unresolved disputes remain between stakeholders over the status of almost all areas proposed for protection in the Great Bear Rainforest. The provincial government’s Orders in Council securing logging deferrals on 1.5 million hectares of the region expire in June, yet land-use planning is nowhere near complete.

“There is an opportunity for BC to be recognized worldwide for a progressive conservation decision, but the jury is still out on whether government will deliver, or backslide towards the bare minimum. The world and the marketplace are watching,” said Merran Smith of ForestEthics.

A recent study by IBM Consulting surveyed customers in the United States, Europe and Japan, who together purchase more than $2 billion worth of BC forest products. The study shows customers want resolution of conflict in controversial areas including the Great Bear Rainforest. They include major wood products retailers such as Home Depot, IKEA and Lowe’s. But in apparent defiance of market demand, the government’s forest policy agenda is reducing public oversight and corporate accountability for environmental practices – moves that threaten to increase the very controversy the market wants to avoid.

“The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement pointed BC in the direction of long-term sustainability and market access. Unfortunately, the BC government’s forest policy agenda is headed in exactly the opposite direction,” says Lisa Matthaus of Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter. “Credible science and greater local benefits from our resources are the foundation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement – these should be reflected in BC’s larger forest policy framework.”