Project Type: Improved Forest Management

Standard: BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol

Location: British Columbia, Canada

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest remaining in the world. The resources of Great Bear are vast and valuable to Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative, environmental groups, forest companies and governments. Together, these groups have adopted an Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) approach that values the forest not as a source of lumber alone, but as a balanced system that sustains biodiversity and an enriched community. Organizations and individuals have a unique opportunity to protect this valuable resource by investing in a conservation economy through the purchase of carbon offsets.

The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project is an Improved Forest Management project, validated by the BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol (FCOP) with offsets listed on the BC Carbon Registry. The project consists of three project areas including Haida Gwaii, the North and Central Mid-Coast, and the South Central Coast. The project activities include changes in land-use legislation and regulation that result in increased carbon stocks by converting forests that were previously designated, sanctioned, or approved for commercial logging to protected forests. Emissions caused by harvesting, road building and other forestry operations are also prevented. It is a landmark project for balancing human well-being and ecological integrity through carbon finance and is the first carbon project in Canada on traditional territory with unextinguished Aboriginal rights and Title.

Without the project, the protected areas would not have been established and harvest levels would not have been reduced. The project is unique in that it is the only Improved Forest Management Project of its scale that has equal involvement with the First Nations and the BC Government, strong legal and policy foundations, and robust data to support the quantification of ecosystem services. This is not simply a conservation project; it is a model for sustainable development in an economically valuable but ecologically and culturally vulnerable area.

Returning forest management to the Coastal First Nations addresses longstanding concerns about new employment at home for First Nations in the Great Bear region. Revenue flowing into the communities creates long-term economic opportunities in areas with very high unemployment.

The Great Bear Rainforest

The Great Bear Rainforest is considered a global ecological treasure and, as a coastal temperate rainforest, one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth. It is home to ancient cedars and towering spruce trees which serve as important habitat for cougars, wolves, grizzly bears, and the iconic Kermode bear. The Kermode bear, also known as the Spirit Bear is a white black bear only found in this region, making its conservation crucial. The Spirit Bear also holds a prominent place in the traditions of the First Nations in the area. Pacific salmon also play a crucial role by bringing the Great Bear Sea into the rainforest through its rivers and creeks.

The salmon provide a nutrient-rich meal to the Great Bear’s inhabitants, including the coastal wolves, the grizzly bears, black bears and Spirit Bears, cougars and predatory birds. These animals, distribute these benefits across the forest, helping to fertilize the forest trees, providing nitrogen for plants to grow and therefore supporting the inhabitants that don’t consume the salmon directly.