US consumers' and corporations' actions key factor in the protection of Great Bear Rainforest
San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC (April 4, 2001) - Today the government of British Columbia, in coordination with environmental organizations, logging companies, and First Nations, announced the one of the largest rainforest conservation measures in North American history. Some 3.5 million acres -- an area four times the size of Rhode Island -- of ancient rainforests will be immediately protected or put into deferral. This region, referred to as the "Great Bear Rainforest," is a wildlife hot spot and is considered one North America's biological gems.
The agreement culminates what has at times been a contentious and highly confrontational dialogue, but represents a rare example of successful collaboration among industry, environmentalists, native peoples, rural communities, and government.
The consensus agreement package contains a combination of protected areas and deferrals amounting to more than 3.5 million acres, plus a new ecosystem-based approach to planning, an independent body of scientists and economists, government to government protocols and a "managing change plan" for economic diversification.
ForestEthics, Rainforest Action Network, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have targeted U.S. customers of the B.C. logging industry in a successful effort to transform the wood product marketplace, and stem the tide of wood from ancient rainforests. Pressure has also come from major customers in Europe and Japan.
Forest protection organizations commenting on today's announcement called on concerned U.S. corporations to help ensure that as the plan is implemented over the next two years, that it translates into real protection for the remaining intact rainforest valleys and the region's biodiversity.
The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest contiguous temperate rainforest left in the world. It is home to extremely rare and endangered wildlife including white spirit bears, grizzly bears, salmon and eagles. Despite its ecological and recreational value, nearly every intact watershed on the B.C. coast had been slated for road building or clearcut logging over the next decade.
Dozens of Fortune 500 companies -- including Kinko's, Nike, 3M and Starbucks -- and hundreds of smaller U.S. companies have pledged to avoid buying products derived from the destruction of ancient forests. After being a target of a two-year international campaign, Home Depot, the world's largest retailer of wood, pledged to phase out purchases from endangered regions by 2002. Lowe's, another home improvement giant, went even further by announcing an immediate ban on wood from the Great Bear Rainforest.
NRDC recently named the Great Bear Rainforest one of twelve threatened BioGems in North and Central America. The BioGems initiative targets wildlands of exceptional natural values that are threatened with destruction. A special website, www.SaveBioGems.org, was set up to give people the opportunity to take direct action to protect BioGems with the click of a mouse.
This is a joint release of the following groups: ForestEthics, Rainforest Action Network, Natural Resources Defense Council