Canada prepared to unveil on Tuesday a 21-million acre (8.5-million hectare) park, a protected area teeming with grizzly bears, wolves and wild salmon in the ancestral home of many native tribes. Closing another chapter of the wars between environmentalists and loggers, the Great Bear Rainforest is the result of an unusual accord between governments, aboriginal First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists.
It will stretch 250 miles (402 kilometers) along British Columbia's rugged Pacific coastline in the ancestral home of many native groups whose cultures date back thousands of years. The area also sustains the rare white spirit bear, a species found only in British Columbia.
While 5.9 million acres (2.39 hectares) will be protected outright and managed as parkland, the remaining 14.1 million acres (5.7 hectares) will be run under a so-called ecosystem management plan to ensure sustainable forestry with minimal impact on the environment.
British Columbia's spectacular and lush evergreen forests have been the scene of decades of confrontation between environmentalists and loggers. Successful boycott campaigns in the 1990s led to large international companies turning away from British Columbia paper and wood products, forcing the government to find a negotiated solution.
"After years of discord, the 21 million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is on the verge of becoming a new symbol of consensus, rather than conflict, and an opportunity to blend conservation and compatible human use at a tremendous scale," the Minneapolis-based Nature Conservancy, one of the environmental groups active in the park, said in a statement.
Although not yet completed, a central component of the Great Bear Rainforest project will be a C$120 million (US$104 million; Ђ 87 million) conservation financing package to support the land-use agreements. To date, Greenpeace Canada, the Sierra Club of Canada and ForestEthics, the Nature Conservancy, Tides Canada Foundation and several private U.S. and Canadian foundations have raised C$60 million (US$52 million; Ђ 43.5 million) to help establish the financing package, reports the AP.
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