This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report
This Article is part of the Great Bear Rainforest special report See the full report

Scientists call on BC's Premier Clark to speed protection of Great Bear Rainforest

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D. Chief Scientist and President of Geos Institute, Ashland, Oregon, and Lead author of Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World

 Scientists from Canada and the United States are asking British Columbia Premier Christy Clark to speed up protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D.  Chief Scientist and President  Geos Institute, Ashland, Oregon, and Lead author of Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World, leads the signatories of the letter which says the Great Bear Rainforest plays an essential role in stablizing the earth's climate."  The signatories are all contributors to DellaSala's book.  Others include scientists from the zoology department of University of British Columbia, the biology department of University of Victoria, as well as UBC's Biodiversity Research Centre.  They also reprsent conservation organizations like Northwest Institute and Skeena Wild Conservation Trust in Smithers, British Columbia, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation of Sydney, British Columbia.

The letter follows:

Re: Scientists’ Support for Great Bear Rainforest Agreements 2006 & 2009

We are a group of scientists and conservation professionals1 who are concerned about the state of implementation of the agreements to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, announced first in February 2006 and recommitted to in March 2009. We are writing to request that you fully implement the agreements to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia in the next 12 months. 

1A number of the signatories are also co-authors of an award-winning book on the world’s temperate rainforests: Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World: Ecology and Conservation  which received recognition for “outstanding academic excellence” by Choice magazine in January 2012.  

In the light of global environmental and economic challenges, 2012 is a critical year to find solutions that allow for sustainable development and sustainable management of the world’s forests as called for by the United Nations in their declaration on the International Year of Forests, 20112. In addition, 20 years after the historic Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the international community will come together in June of this year for Rio +20 to highlight new models as being pursued in the Great Bear Rainforest and present your government with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. 

While international efforts to protect the world’s forests for climate change planning and sustainable management have rightfully focused on tropical rainforests, protection of temperate rainforests is at least as important, and Canada is unique in having some of the most important rainforests on the planet, outside the tropics.

British Columbia is endowed with the Great Bear Rainforest and adjacent offshore archipelago of Haida Gwaii as one of the few remaining large blocks of comparatively unmodified landscapes on earth. This region includes over a quarter of the Pacific Coastal rainforests of North America that provide habitat for spectacular wildlife and wild salmon runs that are increasingly rare throughout the world.  However, intact productive rainforests have been reduced by more than one-half throughout British Columbia and up to three-quarters on Vancouver Island3. Thus, fulfilling the terms of the Great Bear agreements is vital to ensuring that this rainforest system will remain integral to Canada’s natural legacy as it prepares for the challenges of natural resource demands in a changing global climate.

3 Estimates provided by Sierra Club, BC.

4Carbon storage estimates extrapolated from Keith et al. 2009, converted to CO2-equivalents, and then compared to annual greenhouse gas emissions in BC. 

5Harmon, M.E., S. L. Garman, and W.K. Ferrell. 1996. Modeling historical patterns of tree utilization in the Pacific Northwest: carbon sequestration implications. Ecological Applications 6:641-652.

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