Mountains in Papua on New Guinea are home to unknown species

Isolated habitats generate biodiversity. The BBC reports that an expedition has found about forty new species, from palm trees and butterflies to birds, in the isolated Foja Mountains.

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Unique agreement saves rain forest in British Columbia

This is an article in today’s Globe and Mail newspaper. I’m quoting the whole thing for now in case it evaporates next week.

Summary: several very different interest groups, including loggers, environmentalists, and native peoples, have struck a deal to preserve temperate rain forest and an unusual population of black bears.

Years of tension end with ‘unique’ B.C. rain forest deal
—by Mark Hume

VANCOUVER — After 10 years of logging-road blockades, marketplace boycotts and meetings that were so fractious people couldn’t even agree on lunch breaks, the antagonists in British Columbia’s great land-use debate finally made peace.

The result was that four groups that had long known nothing but conflict — environmental organizations, the forest industry, native communities and the government — finally reached an agreement on the future of a region known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

Premier Gordon Campbell praised the various sides yesterday as he unveiled a plan that will protect 1.8 million hectares from logging on B.C.’s north and central coasts. Included in the settlement are 200,000 hectares that will become a preserve for a rare population of black bears.

The Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy on Princess Royal Island is a cornerstone in the plan, which will preserve one of the largest temperate rain forests in the world.

The area is so rich in wildlife and flora that biologists have compared it to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon jungles.

The land-use plan for the Great Bear Rainforest — an area that stretches from just north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle — calls for the protection of a forested area three times the size of Prince Edward Island.

Special logging regulations will apply wherever forestry is allowed in the area.

“Today we announce the culmination of an unprecedented collaboration,” Mr. Campbell said at a press conference. “Each party had a greater interest in finding a long-term solution, than in staying with the . . . conflict and controversy which often took place in the past. We reached today because people were looking for a solution.”

But it certainly didn’t start that way.

“There was a lot of animosity at the table,” said Dallas Smith, chairman of KNT First Nations. “I remember when we went into that table and we were going to defend our rights and title if we had to die to do it.”

At the same time Greenpeace, the Sierra Club of Canada and ForestEthics were engaged in market boycotts of any B.C. products coming from old-growth forests. Some groups also blocked logging roads.

Slowly those conflicts faded and dialogue and compromise took over.

Reynold Hert, president and CEO of Western Forest Products, said the years of discussion were a difficult but worthwhile process that ended an era of conflict.

“When we work together, we can produce meaningful benefits for everyone concerned,” he said. “This truly is a very unique agreement for a very unique part of British Columbia and the world.”

Mr. Hert added that, while the deal forbids logging in many areas, it also offers the industry certainty, because it now knows where it can cut and under what rules.

Mr. Campbell said his government will discuss compensation with members of the industry for lost opportunities, but he felt the amount would be relatively small.

“Industry were one of the first leaders of this [negotiating process],” he said. “They pointed out how important certainty was, they pointed out how important it was to deal openly with the . . . market campaigns. So we think there’s a pretty good balance here. . . . I think the industry has done very well.”

Merran Smith, B.C. coastal program director for ForestEthics, said most environmental groups are thrilled with the decision, because initially all of the watersheds in the Great Bear Rainforest were slated to be logged.

“Literally hundreds of rain forest valleys will be saved by this agreement. . . . Today is a dream come true,” she said.

Amanda Carr, forest campaigner for Greenpeace, said the process was a remarkable one.

“We took the campaign from the blockades to the boardrooms,” she said.

Not all of the 25 native groups first nations in the Great Bear Rainforest were on board. Chief Eric Joseph of Tsawataineuk said his group does not want its territory, in the Kingcome Inlet area, to be included in the plans. He said several tribes will come up with their own land-use plans.

I’d like to see a follow-up article on how the negotiations were managed to bring them to such a successful conclusion. It doesn’t happen by accident.

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