30 photos that reveal the significance of protecting B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

After decades of dispute, forest companies, First Nations groups, environmentalists, and the province came together, signing an agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in 2016.

After the decision was made, it was dubbed not only a gift to British Columbia and Canada, but to the entire world. And after seeing these photos of the pristine, relatively untouched environment, it’s not tough to see why.

The forest, which spans approximately 6.4-million hectares between Southeast Alaska and the top of Vancouver Island, is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled rainforest in the world. It’s home to 1000-year-old western red cedars and 100-metre Sitka spruce, which contribute to a thriving ecosystem.

Thanks to Monday’s landmark agreement, 85 percent of the rainforest will be completely protected from commercial logging. The conserved area is actually larger than Vancouver Island.

But Ian McAllister, photographer and executive director of Pacific Wild, a non-profit organization that has worked to protect the rainforest for decades, says there’s still lots of work to do.

“We don’t view it as a final conservation plan, but rather one that builds on previous agreements,” he told Vancity Buzz. He acknowledges that the agreement is a step in the right direction, but notes that logging isn’t the only threat to the forest.

The agreement doesn’t address things like marine use protection, which is equally critical to certain species living in the forest. Bears and wolves, for example, rely on intertidal areas for foraging.

“From my photography, I’ve learned how much the terrestrial wildlife relies on the ocean environment,” he told Vancity Buzz. “…the ocean and rainforest are really inseparable when it comes to trying to define the needs of wildlife.”