Great Bear Rainforest - Land use decision resources

The Great Bear Rainforest is a global treasure that covers 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia’s north and central Coast. It is the largest intact temperate coastal rainforest in the world and is home to 25 percent of the world’s remaining temperate coastal old-growth rainforest.

The 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order (GBRLUO) and the 2017 Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act conserved 85 percent of the forest and 70 percent of old growth over time, achieving a high level of ecological integrity and leaving 15 percent of the area available for sustainable forestry. These initiatives fulfilled cultural, social and economic objectives of First Nations and other communities to meet a high level of human well-being and ecological integrity, the two concurrent goals of ecosystem-based management (EBM) announced in 2006.

The GBRLUO is built upon the principles of continuous improvement and include periodic reviews beginning in 2021, 2026, and every following ten years. In 2020, a 5-year review of the 2016 GBRLUO implementation began, led by technical representatives from Coastal First Nations, Nanwakolas Council and the B.C. government. The government-to-government (G2G) team worked to review reports, data, and information provided by BC Timber Sales, major forest companies, and environmental groups. Based on this review, the 2023 GBRLUO now includes  updates that strengthen four key areas: First Nations co-management, biodiversity, wildlife and aquatic habitat.

Planning for this region was initiated in 1996 with the announcement of the central coast land and coastal resource management plan process. The challenge of establishing a balance between conservation values and forestry development was key for this planning process. An interim agreement was announced in April of 2001 followed by the establishment of a completion table to address outstanding points.

Preparatory work for the land and resource management planning process in the adjacent North Coast was initiated in 2001 with public planning starting in January 2002. Final recommendations were submitted to governments from the Central Coast in May 2004 and from the North Coast in February 2005.

Following government to government review and negotiations, the Province and participating First Nations of the north and central coast announced the coast land use decision on February 7, 2006. This decision set the stage for implementation and further development of ecosystem-based management in the central and north coast plan areas, a region known more familiarly as the Great Bear Rainforest.

While developed independently of one another, common issues and approaches influenced the Central and North Coast planning processes. Both processes were informed by the work of the coast information team (2002-2004), an independent scientific panel tasked with defining elements of ecosystem-based management.

In addition to adopting an ecosystem-based management approach to resource management and the creation of unique new land management designations (114 conservancies and 21 biodiversity, mining and tourism areas), these processes also witnessed a fundamental change in the role of First Nations, who emerged as partners with the Province following the negotiation of government to government agreements. A collaborative governance structure with First Nations and key stakeholders continues through implementation.

Legal direction

Legal direction provides direction for Ecosystem based management forest practices in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Land and resource management plans

Great Bear Rainforest land use decision resources

  • July 27, 2023—Great Bear Rainforest Order amended as part of the preliminary review process that initiated in 2019. Based on the review, the Order included changes focused on four key themes: First Nations co-management, aquatic habitat, biodiversity and wildlife.
  • December 21, 2016—Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act regulations enacted.
  • October 24, 2016—Background and Intent Document for the Great Bear Rainforest Order (PDF): Supplemental information regarding the intent of the legal objectives in the Order, and context for understanding and implementing the objectives.
  • July 18 2016—Landscape Reserve Design Methodology for the Great Bear Rainforest (PDF, 1.2 MB): Technically-oriented guide to implementing landscape reserve design as directed by the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Objective Order and replaces the Strategic Landscape Reserve Design direction introduced in 2010.
  • July 4, 2016—Framework for Landscape Reserve Design in the Great Bear Rainforest: This document presents a governance and general process framework for Landscape Reserve Design development and implementation in the Great Bear Rainforest Plan Area.
  • May 27, 2016—Ecosystem-Based Management Bulletin for the Great Bear Rainforest Order: Expectations, intent and application of the Great Bear Rainforest Order and addresses frequently asked questions regarding the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act.
  • May 19, 2016—Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act delivers negotiated solutions recommended by the collaborative efforts of the Joint Solutions Project (a coalition of environmental groups and major forest licensees), First Nations and Government for the Great Bear Rainforest. The Act enables the implementation of forest management aspects of ecosystem based management (EBM) by providing unique forest management rules for this globally significant area, while still ensuring the application of the normal Forest Act rules where appropriate. The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act will be brought into force by regulation later this year.
  • January 28, 2016—Great Bear Rainforest Order established and the Central and North Coast and South Central Coast Orders established in 2007 and amended in 2009 and 2013, are rescinded.
  • March 31, 2009—Highlights – Ecosystem-based Management and Central and North Coast Land Use Decision Highlights.

Planning in the Great Bear Rainforest was initially informed by work completed by the Ecosystem-Based Management Working Group and the Coast Information Team as well as research conducted during the North and Central Coast land resource management plan processes.