By Caitlyn Vernon | Sierra Club of BC
Friday, November 02, 2012
Enbridge continues to claim that the Northern Gateway pipeline wouldn’t run through the Great Bear Rainforest. This is an affront to geography, ecology, First Nations, and the history of land use planning on the BC coast. The pipeline would indeed travel through the Great Bear Rainforest, as would the tankers.
This is the area covered by the 2006 Great Bear Rainforest agreements between the Province and First Nations, which resulted in new protected areas, shared decision-making with First Nations, a commitment to ecosystem-based management, and conservation financing.
As a result of these government-to-government agreements, new protected areas were established on the Central Coast, North Coast, Haida Gwaii, and the southern portion of the Kalum Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) area. First Nations from the Central Coast, North Coast, Haida Gwaii and also the Haisla Nation have entered into Reconciliation Protocols with the Province, outlining resource revenue sharing arrangement and creating a more collaborative approach to land and resource decision-making.
Lighter-touch forestry, or ecosystem-based management (EBM), is being implemented in the Central Coast and North Coast planning areas, as well as on Haida Gwaii. Sierra Club BC is working with the provincial government, forest industry, First Nation governments, and other environmental organizations to implement ecosystem-based management on the Central and North Coast. (Some of the maps that we produce are specific to this purpose of implementing EBM in these areas, and therefore don’t include Haida Gwaii or any portion of the Kalum LRMP.)
The Great Bear Rainforest agreements resulted in $120 million in conservation financing, to support the transition to a conservation economy. This financial investment included $30 million in federal funding, $30 million in provincial funding, and $60 million in private funding. For the purposes of conservation financing, the Great Bear Rainforest includes the Central Coast, North Coast, Haida Gwaii and a portion of the Kalum, as seen on this map and as outlined in detail in the governing documents for Coast Opportunity Funds, the organization established to administer the $120 million investment.
Ecologically, the Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s largest remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest. Ecosystems don’t follow political/planning boundaries, and the rainforest extends to the areas around Kitimat.
The Great Bear Rainforest agreements cover land use planning and not the marine areas; however, this separation of land and marine for planning purposes was purely an arbitrary political decision, given the interconnectedness of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Where even the trees are nourished by salmon, what happens in the marine will impact the forest.
And let’s not forget, Enbridge’s project doesn’t end in Kitimat but rather loads diluted bitumen onto supertankers - supertankers that would navigate through the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest. To pretend otherwise is nothing but deliberately misleading.