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Susan Casey-Lefkowitz’s Blog

Great Bear Rainforest - Half the forest isn't enough

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

Posted February 7, 2013 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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Spirit Bear fishing Sept 2011 credit Valerie Langer.jpg

Shortly after I started working at NRDC in 2000, my first trip was to the remote Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. I was awed by the ecological splendor of its towering ancient red cedars and mist covered mountains rising from inlets teeming with dolphins and orcas. This region is also home to the elusive Spirit Bear – a rare all-white black bear that the local communities found to be like a ghost in the forest. We were welcomed on that trip by the Gitga’at First Nation part of the rich indigenous cultures of the region. The First Nations of the region, the environmental community and many others worked hard to achieve landmark protection agreements seven years ago today.

And, after seven years, it is long past time for these agreements to be completed so that the Great Bear Rainforest is protected. Currently only half the region is under protection and this is not enough. The “Take it Taller” campaign provides a way for those of us who love the Great Bear Rainforest to take action and ask for the protections the region needs.

Over the years of hard fought campaigns, scientific research, negotiations and amazing moments of vision and leadership, we have seen significant gains. These include setting half the forest off limits to logging.

But half off limits means that half of the forest is still open to logging. This is not enough to safeguard species such as Spirit Bears and the ancient red cedars. More conservation is within  reach if the British Columbia government completes the agreements they set in motion seven years ago.

The science agreed to in the agreements says that 70 percent of the natural levels of old growth forests need to be maintained to safeguard forest and species health. Another million acres will need to be conserved to complete the scientifically-based conservation portion of the agreements.

The British Columbia government can do this and it needs to act now.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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