Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BC's Great Bear Rainforest gets more protection

Having just come back from the Great Bear Rainforest in northwest British Columbia, reports of more protection for the area comes as welcome news (and check out the cool video of the white spirit bears in that link).
Our naturalist on the trip was at pains to point out the messy patchwork of protected areas in the region, involving a bewildering array of conservancies, wilderness groups, Crown land, provincial and national parks. There are, however, still significant gaps in the patchwork, which many organizations are desperately trying to plug before it is too late. Some 9% of the area  (or 15% according to some sources I have read) is still fair game for commercial logging.
The recent donation of private land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada fills in a bit of the missing puzzle. 185 hectares of ecologically significant old-growth forests and estuaries may sound like a lot, but the overall area is so vast - it is the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, and I have seen a variety of different estimates of it size, from 32,000 km2 to 21 million acres (about 85,000 km2) or about the size of Ireland - that even a large donation of this type can seem more like a drop in the proverbial ocean. But it is certainly a step in the right direction, and a boost to the protection of a very special part of the world.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the area later this month, and this will be used as a photo opportunity to endorse the Great Bear Rainforest under the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy Initiative (which aims to conserve forests around the world), although I am not sure what, if any, concrete benefit this might confer.

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