10 things to know about the Great Bear
British Columbia’s Great Bear region: Where one of the world’s last large, intact temperate rainforest meets one of the world’s most productive cold-water seas, and some of the world’s last large wild rivers. The Great Bear is one of the richest and most spectacular ecosystems on Earth – the only place of its kind left on the planet.
1. The Great Bear is an ecological treasure. The Great Bear Sea borders the coastline of the Great Bear Rainforest – on B.C.’s north coast. It’s the second largest intact coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth. In 2006, this rainforest was protected through an historic agreement to ensure eco-friendly logging practices, support sustainable economies and strengthen First Nations decisions about their traditional lands.
2. Many bears call it home. The Great Bear takes its name from the multitude of bears found here – including the grizzly, the black bear, the iconic Haida black bear and the white Spirit bear, which is rarer than the panda.
A joint campaign by Coastal First Nations and WWF
3. The Great Bear is traditional First Nations territory. B.C.’s North and Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii, are the traditional territory of 12 coastal First Nations whose rights to this land have never been ceded or relinquished. The First Nations’ goal is to restore responsible resource management in their territory through ecologically, socially and economically sustainable practices.
5. First Nations and coastal communities depend on the sea. Coastal First Nations’ traditional territories and coastal communities depend economically on the Great Bear Sea. Marine-dependent activities in these territories represent significant economic value. A report on the economic contribution of B.C. seafood and tidal recreational fishing shows that the industry generates $2.5 billion per year – and supports more than 30,000 jobs.
7. This is no place for oil tankers. Canada does not have the ability or technology to adequately deal with a major oil spill in this region – a situation made worse by federal budget cuts earlier this year. The communities that depend on the Great Bear Sea have consistently and adamantly opposed major expansion of oil tanker traffic for decades. It’s a risk not worth taking.
8. There are treacherous waters. Environment Canada says Hecate Strait in the Great Bear Sea is known as one of the four most treacherous bodies of water in the world. In the winter months, waves can reach up to eight metres, here and in the Queen Charlotte Basin. Waves over 30 metres high have been recorded. Yet under the proposed plan for a pipeline in this region, oil tankers – as long as the Empire State Building is high – are expected to navigate these waters and transport toxic crude oil across the Pacific Ocean.
9. Rivers feed the sea. The Great Bear Sea is fed by some of B.C.’s largest wild and free-flowing rivers, including the Skeena and the Nass.
10. Everything here is connected. Salmon reflect the interconnectedness of the sea, wild rivers and land in the Great Bear Sea. Countless streams feed rich estuaries and are lifelines for all five species of Pacific salmon. Bears, wolves, birds and trees are all nourished by the salmon.