A public-private partnership involving funders from the United States and Canada has announced the creation of a $96 million (C$120 million) fund to promote economic diversification and conservation management within the 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, along the British Columbia coast.
The new fund includes $48 million (C$60 million) contributed by the William and Flora Hewlett, Gordon and Betty Moore, David & Lucile Packard, Tides Canada, and Wilburforce foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Nature Conservancy. In addition, the governments of Canada and British Columbia have agreed to contribute $24 million (C$30 million) each to the fund. According to a joint press release issued by ForestEthics, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club of Canada-B.C. Chapter, and the Nature Conservancy, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement is a watershed event in the modern conservation movement and underscores the idea that a sustainable economy is vital to a sustainable environment.
The agreement lays the groundwork for future conservation efforts around the world, replacing a model of resource extraction and offering a sustainable approach to protecting the environment while enabling communities to prosper. Through the new partnership, private funds will flow to a conservation endowment fund dedicated solely to conservation management, science, and stewardship jobs in First Nations communities, while public funds will be used for investments in ecologically sustainable business ventures within First Nations territories or communities.
The agreement also calls for a new approach to logging called ecosystem-based management, which will build on the commitments of all the partners as the agreement is implemented. The financing package is an integral component of long-term plans to protect biodiversity in the region, which is home to wolves, cougars, bears and 20 percent of the world's wild salmon population.
"The challenges of our age require innovative approaches that place a premium on a healthy environment," said Merran Smith, B.C. Coast program director for ForestEthics. "With [this agreement], we're proving that conservation can attract investment and actually support jobs that won't threaten the living systems that we depend upon."