The Province and its partners are leading a review to ensure B.C’s Great Bear Rainforest remains preserved and protected while supporting sustainable forestry.
“Containing one-quarter of the coastal temperate rainforests in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest is a global treasure,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “All British Columbians have a stake in preserving it for future generations. By working together, we can strengthen protections in the Great Bear Rainforest for wildlife habitat and biodiversity and ensure First Nations are full partners in sustainable forest management.”
The Province has been working in government-to-government partnership with First Nations and seeking input from stakeholders to complete a five-year review of the implementation of ecosystem-based management (EBM) in the Great Bear Rainforest. EBM is a land and resource management approach that considers the interconnectedness of people, place and ecology. EBM seeks to find the balance between conservation and economic development in a way that supports local communities and the broader ecosystem.
“The Great Bear Rainforest is recognized worldwide for its co-management approach, with First Nations working in partnership with the Province and industry to steward ecosystem health and provide economic opportunities for communities,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship. “These innovative partnerships demonstrate what can be achieved together, and we are committed not only to strengthening the Great Bear Rainforest, but also to building on its success in collaborative stewardship throughout British Columbia.”
The goal of the review is to identify and resolve issues and make improvements to the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order (GBRLUO) in order to achieve ecological and social goals. Technical work is complete and, in advance of decision-making, the Province is releasing proposed amendments for public comment.
The engagement, which will be open for 60 days, will cover four key themes:
- First Nations: Increased oversight of forest planning and harvest activity by First Nations and stronger protection and stewardship of Indigenous cultural heritage and use of forest resources.
- Aquatic habitat: Strengthened requirements for protection of important fisheries watersheds, maintenance of watershed health and stewardship of fish-bearing rivers and streams and other important aquatic habitats and riparian forests.
- Biodiversity: An improved landscape reserve design (LRD) process that will enable First Nations to take a stronger role in developing LRDs and expedite the protection of important forest values, including rare and at-risk old growth. LRDs map and protect the old growth targets in the GBRLUO plan area and consider a wide range of cultural and ecological values in directing where logging can occur.
- Wildlife: Increased requirements for the protection and stewardship of habitat for regionally important wildlife, particularly grizzly bears and black bears, and including kermode (spirit) bears.
The 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order is managed under B.C.’s Land Act and is the product of almost 20 years of negotiation. Together with the 2017 Great Bear Rainforest Act, which was enacted as an outcome of the 2014 Great Bear Rainforest review and government-to-government discussions between First Nations and the Province, the GBRLUO helped establish a more complete legal framework for implementing EBM in the Great Bear Rainforest.
The Province is committed to continuing this collaborative approach, with legislative reviews scheduled for 2021, 2026 and every subsequent 10 years.
Following public engagement and government-to-government discussions with First Nations, an updated version of the GBRLUO will be developed.
- The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia’s north and central coasts, approximately 7% of the province, an area nearly the size of Ireland.
- The Great Bear Rainforest includes 1.8 million hectares of old-growth forests.
- The Great Bear Rainforest represents one-quarter of the coastal temperate rainforests in the world.
- The Great Bear Rainforest overlaps with the territories of 26 First Nations.
- The Great Bear Rainforest agreements aimed to strike a balance between conservation and development.
- The agreements removed 85% of the land base from development, leaving 15% for sustainable logging under strict new management practices.
For more information about the engagement, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/great-bear-rainforest-amendments
For more information about the Great Bear Rainforest, visit: https://greatbearrainforest.gov.bc.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.