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Great Bear Rainforest Overview
BC’s Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest intact areas of coastal temperate rainforest remaining on Earth. Influenced by the ocean and Coast mountain ranges, abundant rainfall makes the terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Great Bear Rainforest (also known as the Central and North Coast of BC) some of the most productive and biologically diverse on the planet. Five species of salmon, Sitka spruce trees, rainforest wolves and eulachon are just some of the unique plant and animal populations found in the region.
It is the diversity of these lands and waters that has supported the rich cultures of 25 different First Nations since time immemorial. Today First Nations living in small remote communities up and down the coast rely on the abundance of the land and sea for traditional food, social and ceremonial uses, from medicinal plants to local food sources such as roe on kelp, salmon and deer. For over a century, First Nations have witnessed unprecedented exploitation of land and marine resources in this globally significant part of the world.
Guardian Watchmen monitor the health of these resources and the threats and impacts to this rich ecological and cultural diversity.
In 2006, land and resource agreements were successfully negotiated for the Great Bear Rainforest, marking an unprecedented moment in BC’s history. These agreements commit coastal First Nations leaders and the Province to:
- Protect one third of the region in conservancies from logging and other industrial development
- Manage the remaining two-thirds of the land base using a new approach to forestry called ecosystem-based management
Many First Nations communities are currently developing integrated marine use plans recognizing that managing natural and cultural resources must include both the land and the sea.
Guardian Watchmen Programs are critical to successful implementation of both land and marine agreements and plans. While progress has been made through land and marine use planning, the impacts of historical exploitation and ongoing threats to the health and integrity of cultural values and traditional food sources continue to be a serious concern.