How it works
The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project is an Improved Forest Management project. 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 North America on traditional territory with unextinguished Aboriginal rights and Title.
Offsets Made it Happen
Without offset funds, 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.
Environmental Benefits of the Project
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.
Social Benefits of the Project
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. Money from the sale of carbon offsets goes through two channels: stewardship and community development
- The majority of the funds go towards stewardship jobs for the First Nations—the monitoring of the carbon program
Some revenue from offset sales supports community initiatives, including:
- Youth programs and summer camps
- Supports Guardian Watchmen program
- Monitor and protect lands and waters on their territory
- Employ resource technicians, fisheries guardians, park rangers and community watchmen
- Bear safety program – education program in the community to reduce attractants and educate on safe bear behaviour
- Renovated Elder (senior) centre
- Open space for luncheons and other gatherings
- Includes private rooms for medical check-ups and private events
- Built a youth centre
- Contains washer/dryer so they can do laundry (can’t do this at home due to overcrowding or lack of washer/dryer)
- A safe place to study