VANCOUVER – First Nations, environmentalists, logging firms and the British Columbia government signed an agreement Monday to protect a large part of the province’s central coast. Here are some key things you need to know about the Great Bear Rainforest and the deal to protect it:
— It estimated at 6.4 million hectares with 3.6 million hectares of forest containing trees up to 1,000 years old.
— The agreement puts an area the size of Nova Scotia under a new legal and scientific standard for maintaining forest and wildlife health.
— Eight five per cent of the forested land base will be protected from logging, while the remaining 15 per cent will be subject to the most stringent commercial logging standards in North America.
— The forest is home to the B.C.’s largest concentration of kermode, or spirit bears. It is the official mammal of the province and the black bear gets its white fur due to a rare genetic trait. It is not albino.
— It is the territory of 26 First Nations
— The agreement will protect habitat for grizzly bears, the marbled murrelet, northern goshawk, mountain goat and the tailed frog.
— Since the process began 20 years ago, First Nations leader Dallas Smith said there have been 94 chiefs, about 180 different councillors, three premiers and numerous CEOs from various forest companies.