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Help Great Bear Campaign Achieve Victory!

by WIlliam Thomas Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005 at 11:22 PM

The campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest, the world's largest temperate rainforest located on the Central and North coasts of British Columbia, Canada, is very close to a huge victory -- so close that a historic agreement could be finalized within days -- but the provincial government of British Columbia needs to feel pressure from people all over the world right now to ensure that it takes one final step. PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT through the website: www.savethegreatbear.org

If implemented, the Great Bear Rainforest agreement would be unprecented in Canadian history. It would protect 33% of the Central and North Coast regions (an area twice the size of Switzerland) from logging, where all previous land use plans in BC have only protected between 7% (Okanagan) to 14% (Lower Mainland) of their regions.

Please read the following statements from Greenpeace and from Guujaw and Art Steritt of the coastal First Nations, and take action!



The Great Bear Rainforest - a decisive moment in history



Decisions are being made right now that will determine the future of the Great Bear Rainforest and one party -- the Government of British Columbia -- represents the final hold out. The logging industry, unions, local communities, mining, recreational users, tourism industry, Greenpeace and other environmental groups have put a consensus recommendation forward. First Nations have melded these recommendations with their own land use visions and are also ready for change in the Great Bear Rainforest.



At this moment in time, this is the agreement that will be moved forward or rejected. Please act now by sending a fax to the Premier of British Columbia



We're talking about a massive paradigm shift



The scale of agreements in the Great Bear Rainforest go beyond protecting one single valley or establishing of one sustainable business venture. The campaign goals we all embarked on were grand and visionary covering 21 million acres, the traditional territory of 17 First Nations, and a region of economic importance to many, including 5 major multinational logging companies. To be successful and sustainable in this complicated political, economic and environmental landscape, conservation in the Great Bear Rainforest must not only protect the ecosystem, but also leverage change in multinational economic forces, respect indigenous cultures, and strengthen local stewardship efforts and economies.



The Government of British Columbia is currently confronted with a choice to support agreements that include:



Protect of an area 5 times the size of Prince Edward Island.



A commitment to take a first step and see implementation of new logging practices by 2009.



0 million for First Nations to manage their parks, restore damaged watersheds, and build their tourism and alternative energy businesses. Up to an additional million in socially responsible investments will be available for both native and non-native communities with ties to the current economy of the Great Bear Rainforest. Together these funds will enable locals to direct a new economy, rather than rely on multinational corporations that chose to enter the region (such as salmon farming and logging companies).



The protected areas network alone is not the only part of this package that addresses the future of the ecology of the Great Bear Rainforest. While it is the largest coastal rainforest protection package in Canadian history, what is on the table for consideration by the Government of British Columbia is about much more.



Government is letting this opportunity slide away and all that remains certain in the Great Bear Rainforest is 7% in existing protection, continued clearcut logging and communities with up to 80% unemployment and few options.



Help Greenpeace wake them up and turn the vision for the Great Bear Rainforest into reality



Amanda Carr

Greenpeace Forests Campaigner



To help save the Great Bear Rainforest, please send a fax to the BC government through the website www.savethegreatbear.org



***********

Best Chance for Coastal Rainforest



by Art Sterritt and Guujaaw

Some continue to claim the proposed land use agreements to protect

B.C.'s Central and North Coast -- also known as the Great Bear

Rainforest -- and the islands of Haida Gwaii don't go far enough. Others

think it goes too far.



As 12 first nations who live in these regions, our traditional

territory, and who have 8,000 years of on-the-ground management

experience, we believe those who make those claim fail to consider one

critical question.

How do we integrate the needs of natural systems with the needs of the

people who depend upon them for their livelihoods and way of life?



We live and work on this coast, where the forest and waters are a vital

natural, cultural and economic resource for first nations, coastal

communities and B.C. as a whole.

To be successful, land use agreements must not only preserve the land

and protect its ecological integrity -- they must also respect

indigenous cultures and strengthen local economies.



To be successful, conservation must be sustainable, both ecologically

and economically.



The coastal land use agreements, currently awaiting cabinet approval, do

both.



In these agreements, the total size of protected areas would be

quadrupled to secure many of its most sensitive and intact valleys and

islands.



This will be more than seven million acres of area protected from

logging on the Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii.

When approved, it will be the largest temperate rainforest protection

package in Canadian history. The agreements also represent the first

effort to apply ecosystem-based management on all areas outside the

protected areas.

This amounts to re-engineering an entire regional economy, tuning it to

measurable indicators of ecological health and human well-being.



Through a declaration signed in June 2000, Coastal First Nations

committed to making decisions that ensure the well-being of our lands

and waters, and to preserve and renew their territories and cultures

through tradition, knowledge, and authority.



Since then, this position has not changed, only strengthened, as we seek

to find more opportunities for conservation approaches based on

independent science and local and traditional knowledge.



As well, we are looking for approaches for our coastal communities where

unemployment and poverty rates are well above national averages.



The intricate process that has led to this stage represents a commitment

to a new relationship between the provincial government and first

nations.



Beyond mere consultation, this government-to-government relationship

will allow for a more just approach to land use decisions today and in

the future.



We believe the application of these land use agreements present the

world with its best chance yet to integrate conservation, community

development and first nations self-determination. We are supported by

Greenpeace, ForestEthics, the Sierra Club of Canada B.C. Chapter, the

Rainforest Action Network, the Nature Conservancy and others.

We are proud to support these agreements and are working with the

British Columbia government to develop legal and legislative tools to

make them a reality.



Art Sterritt is executive director of the Coastal First Nations of the

Turning Point Initiative Society.



Guujaaw is the president of the Council of Haida Nation.



*** Send a message to the BC government to protect the Great Bear

Rainforest at: http://www.savethegreatbear.org





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