VICTORIA – Public input on proposed land use objectives and the potential for new biodiversity, mining and tourism areas (BMTAs) and a conservancy in the Great Bear Rainforest is being sought until Aug. 10, 2015, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced June 10.
The intent of the proposed Great Bear Rainforest land use order and potential BMTAs and conservancy is to meet the goals of reserving 70 per cent of historic old-growth forests (with minor exceptions), while maintaining a viable forest industry in the Great Bear Rainforest.
The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares on B.C.’s north and central coast. The proposed land use order addresses First Nations cultural heritage resources, freshwater ecosystems and habitats, landscape and stand level biodiversity and bear habitat.
Up to eight new BMTAs that collectively cover 295,000 hectares of Crown land next to existing conservancies and other protected areas in the region are also being considered. The potential BMTAs being considered are Hanson, Sonora, King and Gil Islands, and the Kitsault, Kimsquit, Green and Braden areas. However, for King Island, the ministry is considering establishing a conservancy instead of a BMTA.
Commercial forestry and hydro-electric generation linked to the power grid are prohibited in BMTAs. Areas designated as conservancies explicitly recognize the importance of the area to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural uses.
In March 2009, the Province, First Nations, environmental groups and forest companies agreed to review implementation of ecosystem-based management land-use objectives in the Great Bear Rainforest with the goal of “concurrently moving to high levels of ecological integrity and high levels of human well-being and if that is not possible, to make meaningful increments to both.”
To date, forest companies in the area have been following the existing land use objectives that protect 50 per cent of old-growth forests.
In January 2014, Joint Solutions Project (coalition of environmental groups and forest companies) jointly submitted 82 pages of recommendations for future management in the Great Bear Rainforest.
The proposed land use objectives being released for public review and comment incorporate those recommendations and have had input from the Nanwakolas Council and Coastal First Nations.
In addition to reviewing public and stakeholder input, consultation with 12 other First Nations that have traditional territory in the Great Bear Rainforest will need to occur before the proposed land use order and any BMTAs/conservancy are finalized.
Copies of the proposed Great Bear Rainforest land use order, associated maps and maps of the potential BMTAs/conservancy and supporting data are available online at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/TASB/SLRP/GBR_BMTA_LUOR.html
Written comments can be sent via mail to: Great Bear Rainforest Land User Order/BMTAs Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations 142 – 2080 Labieux Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9T 6J9
Or via fax to 250 751-7081 or via email to: Great.Bear.Rainforest@gov.bc.ca
As a result of the 2006 Coast Land Use Decision, almost 2.1 million hectares of the 6.4-million-hectare Great Bear Rainforest are fully protected. This included the creation of 114 new conservancies and 21 new biodiversity, mining and tourism areas.
• Fact sheet on the Great Bear Rainforest:
• Proposed Great Bear Rainforest land use order and potential BMTAs/Conservancy: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/tasb/SLRP/legal-direction/