Sunday, January 21, 2007

Where the Great Bear Rainforest Meets the Great Blue Sea

The feds have just announced funding for BC's Great Bear Rainforest Initiative. It's all very nice to sign another agreement protecting the coastal rainforest, but what happens to the same treasured area if the offshore oil and gas moratorium is lifted, or if supertankers laden with tar sands oil start plying the Queen Charlotte Basin?

In other words, it's all well and good to talk about ecosystem-based management, but where is the recognition that the land and sea are inextricably linked, and that in order to save the forest in general, and the Kermode Bear in particular, you have to protect the ocean as well, and develop an integrated approach? Let's not forget that we are talking here about the so-called "Salmon Forest", as Tom Reimchen calls it, and that a catastrophic oil spill could cause irreversible harm to both the marine and terrestrial environments.

In short, while this initiative is a significant step forward, we are only halfway there if we wish to truly protect the entire region, encompassing both land and sea, from the ravages of development. What we need to do is protect not just the central and north coasts but the Queen Charlotte Basin as well. To this end, we should support DFO's PNCIMA planning initiative for the North Coast, and reaffirm the oil and gas and tanker moratoria until such time as the PNCIMA process is complete.


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