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Great Bear Rainforest
In the north and central Pacific Coast planning regions, an area of immense beauty and diversity known as the Great Bear Rainforest, representatives from resource sectors, environmental groups, First Nations, local communities, tourism, labour and government worked hard together to find innovative solutions to issues related to land and resource management. This model for cooperation between industry and environmental groups was established in the Joint Solutions Project (JSP). The agreement was the first of its kind in Canada and the world, whereby the forest industry and environmental groups agreed to work together to reduce land use conflicts, to collaborate and to constructively engage with other stakeholders in government-led consensus-based land use planning for BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Final land use agreements, announced by the British Columbia government in 2006, included protection for 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres), or nearly one-third of the region. Logging is not allowed in another five per cent, bringing the total where no commercial forestry is allowed to 2.1 million hectares (more than five million acres). Where resource development is allowed, it will be guided by the principles of ecosystem-based management – an adaptive management approach that seeks to maintain a balance between environmental and socio-economic concerns. Over the next three years, government-to-government land use agreements were established with coastal First Nations and the BC Government issued the legal orders to implement the plan including new logging regulations and establishing 1.37 million hectares in new protected areas. By March 2009, the BC Government met its commitment to establish an Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) system for coastal BC.
In 2007, participants in the coast planning process were awarded WWF International's Gift to the Earth Award in recognition of the creation of the protected areas, the participatory land use planning process that led to their identification and the establishment of an innovative and well-endowed conservation and sustainable development funding mechanism to support coastal communities.