The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest remaining on earth and one of the world's greatest environmental treasures.
The protection of the rainforest was the result of an unprecendented agreement between First Nations, industry, governments and environmental groups.
It is a model for the rest of the world on how to create sustainable environmental and economic development.
Project 13 Tides Canada
British Columbia, Canada
Marven Robinson, Forest Guide
A lot of people are surprised in Canada that we do have a rain forest here, and it's about the size of Belgium.
This is one of the many jobs that I get to do, is guide people into the Great Bear Rainforest. When I started off, my job was fishing on a sailing boat, and then it went from being a logger to being able to come out and take tourists out to see what we have in this prime forest.
We used to hunt and, you know, everything. I actually haven't fired my gun in probably two or three years. I've switched now to a camera.
Art Sterritt, Executive Director | Coastal First Nations
The Great Bear Rainforest exists from in and around the top end of Vancouver Island, all the way to the BC-Alaska border. Twenty-five per cent of the world's coastal temperate rainforest exists within the Great Bear.
So the original idea was to try to protect what we still had, despite the fact that the forest economy and the fisheries economy that used to sustain us, was dying. As individual First Nations, we were hard pressed to build any kind of a sustainable economy. And so we came together to try and save what was left of the Great Bear Rainforest in order to continue to sustain our culture and our food sources.
The ecosystems in this world depend on people. They depend on people to sustain them. And people depend on economies. And so unless we can build a sustainable economy within the Great Bear Rainforest, the Great Bear Rainforest will never be secure. And so that's why it's so important, that the people that live there are able to make a living to sustain themselves within that.
Daniel Danes, Owner Hartley Bay Hatchery
Ok, this area here where we're at, in the summer time, this is where the kids swim. It's deep in that hole over there. And this is where all of our salmon come up.
The best way to explain what I'm doing is you take a female swimming up this river here. You let it spawn naturally. Now the survival rate of that 4,000 eggs will be around five to eight per cent. I take them in my hatchery, I incubate them and everything. My survival rate could be anywhere from 58 to 98 per cent.
We're just giving nature a hand.
I kind of feel how a woman feels when she gives birth because I'm doing the same thing with salmon. Those are my babies.
We're polluting this world, and we don't realize it. Now we're starting to realize how much the ocean is polluted.
I figure my role is to try to preserve it and save it as much as I can.
Hartley Bay, British Columbia
We in Hartley Bay want to be the greenest community in Canada so that we can set an example for the rest of the world.
At first, when we start, they seem like little changes. But when everybody does it it turns out to be a really big thing. Like today, in Hartley Bay, you know the school has a program where they come out on one day of Spring, and start cleaning up the village. And this has just been a thing that's been going on for a few years now.
Eva-Ann Hill, Schoolteacher
We pick up all the garbage for Earth Day, and we do this every year, and at about 4:30 all the kids and whoever was out helping clean, they'll join for a bonfire, just to help celebrate. They know that we're trying to do it to make Hartley Bay look beautiful, just to help out with that.
Okay, we're going to walk up this way where it'll be easier to walk.
It's a crab!
Yeah. I think he's still alive.
This is our home. So, you know it's, I really see us managing this territory a lot better than anybody else, because we live here. If we take something, take too much, we're going to feel that hurt, you know, right here.
What really got people's attention was the fact that we came together as a group for a change. A collaboration between industry and environmental groups and First Nations and British Columbia, was really what brought this thing home. That's what it means for a small communities.
You've heard of the Spirit Bear, eh? It's in our area, every spring. There's a bear, a white bear every year. The natives call it the Spirit Bear. A long time ago the whole world was white with ice and snow. And God saw how the Indians were having a hard time surviving. So He told the Indians, I'm going to make things easier for you. I'm going to make things grow, trees, and there'll be fish in the water. You have to look after it. Do not pollute it. Because if you do, there's that white bear to remind you of the way the world used to be.