February 1, 2016 — The world celebrated the final agreements to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. To all of you who supported this work over the last 20 plus years, we applaud you.
After over two decades of hard work and negotiation, BC First Nations, the Province of BC, logging companies, and environmental organizations have produced a comprehensive conservation plan for the Great Bear Rainforest.
60 million acres of continuous forest once spanned from Alaska to Northern California. Today there are no remaining examples of undisturbed salmon bearing watersheds in California, Oregon, or Washington. On the coast of British Columbia however, some of the world’s last remaining large contiguous areas of coastal temperate rainforest stand intact, containing full assemblages of large carnivores species and prolific stocks of pacific salmon.
With a small group of students, Round River began working in the British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest in 1993, in cooperation with the Big House Society of the Heiltsuk First Nation and the Raincoast Conservation Society. Since that time, Round River has played an important role in providing scientific research, analysis, and educational opportunities to help guide conservation strategies for the Great Bear Rainforest. These efforts included the development of a Conservation Area Design (CAD) for the Central Coast, and subsequent development of an Ecosystem Spatial Analysis for both the North and Central Coasts with partners from the Coastal Information Team (www.citbc.org). Together, these products have served to form the scientific basis for negotiations over protected areas in the Great Bear.
The Great Bear Rainforest campaign, led by a coalition of conservation groups, celebrated an important victory in early 2006 with an official announcement by the British Columbia government that resulted in approximately one third of the region placed into protected status. A further announcement in March 2009 marked an important milestone in the work to secure conservation goals and to set in place a new ‘ecosystem based management regime’ for areas not included in these protected areas. This most recent announcement includes provincial commitments to have independent scientists determine habitat requirements for various focal species and to develop a reserve network.
Efforts to implement the land use agreement for the Central and North coast are continuing, involving on-going dialogue among forest companies, conservation groups, First Nations, communities and the government. For further information, see www.savethegreatbear.org
Stepping Lightly on the Land – QQS Projects Society
Today Round River Associates, Jerry Scoville and Chris Filardi, continue to work with some of Round River’s first students and partners with the QQS Projects Society.
QQS is a registered charitable society made up of Heiltsuk people. The Society was established to support Heiltsuk Youth, Culture and Environment. The Heiltsuk hereditary leadership, the Hemas, whose very existence is tied to the sustainable use of Heiltsuk land and resources, actively supports QQS.
QQS’ goal is to help create a generation of Heiltsuk leaders who are committed to the sustainable management and use of our lands and resources. QQS believes the best way to achieve this goal is to reconnect Heiltsuk youth with their natural environment.
Each summer the QQS Projects Society organizes a series of science and culture camps that take place in the Koeye Estuary. The camps bring together Heiltsuk youth and western and traditional scientists to study and learn together in a rich cultural context.
As future stewards of Heiltsuk territory, it is important that Heiltsuk youth have the traditional knowledge that has sustained their people and the area’s rich biodiversity for centuries, in addition to gaining an understanding of the principles of conservation biology, which will provide a framework for modern land use planning and protection of their territory.
Over the years, the Koeye River Science and Culture camps have served to strengthen the commitment of the Heiltsuk to this important area and to ensure the conservation and cultural values of the Koeye valley are protected.
By encouraging our youth to re-embrace their culture and their traditional lands, we hope to open their eyes and hearts to their responsibility to care for it and preserve it for generations to come. We are dedicated to helping our youth see themselves and their environment in a new way. Elroy White, Camp Director.