British Columbia, Canada's premier announced their decision to designate a 6.4-million hectares coastal segment of the province as the new Great Bear Rainforest Park. This new initiative was heralded as a cooperative victory by representatives of the First Nations, environmentalists and members of the logging industry. The area is home to large tracts of old-growth forest, grizzly and Kermode black bear habitat, wolves, and salmon, among many other species.
SeaWolf sees this as one of the most important examples of stewardship partnerships being formed on the continent. When corporations such as Home Depot (who stopped purchasing lumber from endangered areas in 2002) partner with environmental groups by combining to put pressure on unsustainable logging proponents, it's a wonderful example of cooperation among often competing interests. While some selective logging will still occur in the Great Bear Rainforest Park, the overall focus will be on maintaining environmental integrity, sustainable protection, and preserving the important biological, cultural and ecological attributes of the region.
It is estimated that only about 400 genetically distinct Kermode black bears exist on the planet - and they all live in the region protected by the park. While many other species deserve - and will be afforded - protection by this new designation, the Kermode has a special significance to the First Nations people, and to many other environmentalists who understand the importance of protecting biodiversity and being effective stewards of natural resources. Protecting the habitat of these magnificent bears is crucial in a world where biodiversity so often is diminished - the partnerships involved in taking this important step are to be commended.
For more information about this victory, visit CNN's Science Web story on the issue at the following link.
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