The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act, introduced today, supports a strict new ecosystem-based management regime created through unprecedented collaboration for the globally unique region along British Columbia’s north and central coast.
The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares, and includes one-quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest. Ecosystem-based management was central to an agreement involving environmental groups and forest companies, and endorsed by local First Nations and the B.C. government. It is an adaptive, systematic approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the co-existence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities.
This innovative approach to forest management requires supporting legislation. The act, if passed and brought into force, will:
- Enable implementation of unique ecosystem-based management rules in the Great Bear Rainforest that move beyond current legislation while ensuring normal rules under the Forest Act still apply.
- Legally establish a Great Bear Rainforest area, and assign an initial allowable annual cut of 2.5 million cubic metres per year for 10 years for the entire area. After 10 years, the allowable annual cut would be determined by the chief forester under Section 8 of the Forest Act, as is the case in other management units.
- Establish new timber supply areas and reconfigure existing ones to better reflect the boundaries of the Great Bear Rainforest.
- Provide for the designation of new special forest management areas that prohibit commercial timber harvesting activities.
- Enable regulations to specify where forest practices may differ from those under the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations.
- Allow the minister to set “partitions” at the licence level. Partitions can be set to ensure a certain portion of a licensee’s annual cut is directed in a particular geographic area, or restricted to a particular tree species.
The act, which makes it clear that the unique provisions under ecosystem-based management apply only to the Great Bear Rainforest, will come into force by enabling regulation in summer 2016.
Premier Christy Clark –
“We have a shared responsibility to pass on our province to future generations as magnificent and pristine as we found it while continuing the ancient tradition of making a living off the land. Today is the culmination of working together with First Nations, industry and environmental organizations for a common purpose.”
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson –
“Ecosystem-based management balances the needs of the people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest region, and the needs of the unique ecology in the area. It brings stability, economic opportunity and certainty for local First Nations, communities and forest products companies.”
Dallas Smith, president, Nanwakolas Council –
“The introduction of the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act is welcomed by our communities. It's important for all parties that the spirit and intent of this world class agreement has the legislation behind it to meaningfully support the implementation.”
Chief Marilyn Slett, president, Coastal First Nations –
“The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act brings increased environmental sustainability to all our traditional territories. It also provides greater access to forestry opportunities; as well as ownership to more carbon tonnes than we currently have and includes special protection areas.”
Eduardo Sousa, Greenpeace senior campaigner on Rainforest Solutions Project (comprising Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions and Sierra Club of B.C.) –
“Who would have thought that the intense conflict over unsustainable industrial logging begun 20 years ago would eventually result today in the introduction of the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act? This is a key step in the final implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements that will help ensure these magnificent rainforests will be around well into the future for all those who consider them home.”
Ric Slaco, chair, Coast Forest Conservation Initiative and chief forester and vice-president, Interfor
“The act provides the certainty the forest industry needs on where to operate, and what rules will apply. It also opens up new opportunities to strengthen and build partnerships with First Nations.”
- With the new measures in the land use order and legislation, 85% of the forest will be protected and 15% (550,000 hectares) will be available for logging, supporting local jobs.
- The act creates special forest management areas – 273,000 hectares where commercial timber harvesting activities are prohibited.
To view a copy of the bill and view its progress through debate, visit: https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/40th-parliament/5th-session/bills/progress-of-bills
Great Bear Rainforest land use order: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/TasB/SLRP/GBR_LUO_2016.html
Link to video: https://youtu.be/nWtvgIUaerY
Link to factsheet: http://www.naturallywood.com/resource/great-bear-rainforest-factsheet