|Citation||Oh, Aaron, Nowlan, Linda and Casey, James (2012). The True North, Strong and Free-Flowing: Wild Rivers of the Great Bear, Vancouver, Canada. WWF-Canada.|
|Organization||World Wildlife Fund Canada|
|Abstract/Description or Keywords||A unique group of wild rivers that connect
land and sea in northern British Columbia’s
Great Bear region deserve greater recognition
– and protection- as clusters of free-flowing
rivers become increasingly rare in the world.
Even in river-rich Canada, there are only a handful of places where wild rivers of this size
and in this abundance flow unobstructed by dams from headwaters to the sea. As the other
clusters are located in the Arctic, the Great Bear’s wild rivers stand out as the only group
below the tree line in Canada. BC is fortunate to have southern Canada’s last wild freeflowing
rivers that provide drinking water and irreplaceable ecological services to the people
that depend on them for salmon, other food, livelihoods and spiritual sustenance. Rivers
like the Nass, Skeena and Kitimat are an integral part of Canada’s history and culture. But
today they are at risk. WWF-Canada is working to protect the Wild Rivers of the Great Bear.
This report outlines the treasured values of these rivers, lists the major threats they face, and
proposes options for better protection.
Twenty years ago, the 74,000 square kilometres Great Bear Rainforest, making up one of
the world’s last large temperate rainforests, was in danger. Clear cutting had stripped bare
much of BC’s rainforest, forestry companies raced to stake their claims on what remained,
and the future of the Great Bear looked dim. After more than a decade of negotiations,
however, First Nations, conservation groups, forest companies, and governments reached
a landmark agreement in 2006. About two-thirds of the land is now governed by ecosystem
based management standards and almost one-third of the rainforest is off-limits to logging.
The agreement ensures eco-friendly logging practices, supports sustainable economies and
strengthens First Nations decisions about their traditional lands.
Despite that agreement, the Great Bear remains in danger from a host of threats. The wild
rivers that tie the Great Bear Rainforest to the Great Bear Sea are threatened by forestry,
dams, and oil and gas development. A major threat comes from a proposed twin pipeline
that would cut BC in half to carry bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands through the protected
rainforest to the town of Kitimat. As this report shows, failing to protect the wild rivers of
the Great Bear is a failure to protect the rainforest and the sea, and that failure could come
at a high price both ecologically and economically. Solutions must be found and put in place;
solutions that are available.
|Regional Watershed||Central Coast|
|Sub-watershed if known|