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Canada Protects One of the Last Coastal Rainforests

Feb 01, 2016 05:34 PM EST
Kermode "spirit" bears
A huge tract of mostly untouched temperate rainforest, about 7 million acres, was just preserved in British Columbia, in western Canada. In it live old-growth forests, "spirit" bears with a recessive gene that produces white fur in 1 out of 10, wolves and others.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A huge tract of undisturbed coastal rainforest in Canada's British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest, will be largely preserved after 10 years of tight negotiations between B.C., First Nations and industry representatives. The decision was announced on Monday by Canada's Premier Christy Clark.

The rainforest stretches from the province's Discovery Islands (east of Vancouver Island) to southeast Alaska. Of that wilderness, 85 percent, or 7.6 million acres, will be permanently protected from commercial logging. On the remaining 1,359,079 acres, industrial logging will be allowed but under conditions called North America's most tightly defined, according to a CBC News article.

"This is a gift to the world," Richard Brooks, the forest campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Canada, said in the article. "An area larger than Vancouver Island will be conserved and set aside from forestry well into the future."
Vancouver Island has more than 7 million acres.

Together with Alaska's Tongass Rainforest and the archipelago Haida Gwaii (2 million acres), the Great Bear takes up Earth's largest expanses of temperate rainforest. Within those forests are old-growth Western red cedar, Sitka spruce, cougars, wolves, grizzlies and Kermode "spirit" bears. The latter is a unique species of black bear in which one in 10 cubs has a recessive gene for a white coat.

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-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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