The agreement was announced on 4 April and will protect or put under tribal planning control 11,000 square miles (28,000 sq km) the Great Bear Rainforest in the central and north coast of British Columbia. British Columbia Premier Ujjal Dosanjh agreed to the measure as a result of a global campaign led by the environmental groups Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defence Council, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and ForestEthics, which targeted customers of the local logging industry to stem the tide of wood from ancient rainforests.

Protests were carried out in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, and Japan that included blockading wood shipments and protesting at embassies, retail outlets and lumber yards. Greenpeace Canada said that the aim of these confrontations was to persuade investors and customers to demand an end to the destruction of the rainforest, which is home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals, including the rare Kermode, or ‘Spirit’ bear, wolves, bald eagles, and endangered salmon runs.

The British Columbia Government has created a vast protection area for the Spirit bear, a rare white subspecies of black bear, and has enabled 17 local tribes to be involved in the planning process of the entire area stretching from Cape Caution in the south to the Alaska border, meaning no logging can be conducted without their approval. The government said that forest companies have agreed to ecosystem-based logging that “seeks to encourage a viable future for forestry on the coast while ensuring the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities”.

“The people of the coast, and all British Columbians, can take pride in these achievements,” said Dosanjh. “The protocol agreement will ensure regional economic opportunities and environmental sustainability that will benefit coastal communities and families.”

“This is a real turning point for the future of BC’s rainforests,” said Merran Smith, senior forest campaigner for the Sierra Club of British Columbia. “It means that the ancient rainforests that have stood in over 40 coastal valleys for the last thousand years will be standing for the next thousand.”

“Through a concentrated consumer campaign, Greenpeace was able to push the forest industry both toward a more sustainable approach to logging, and to protect the most environmentally sensitive areas in this endangered ecosystem,” said Scott Paul, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner. “This goes to show you that when consumers get behind an issue, they can force a company to preserve the environment.”

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