Surrounded by the planet's largest expanse of coastal temperate rainforest, we truly consider ourselves lucky to be amidst the majestic natural beauty that the Bella Coola Valley has to offer. With that luck comes appreciation, knowledge, gratitude, and respect for the land and its people. In light of World Environment Day's 2021 theme, 'Ecosystem Restoration,' we want to share some information on how we preserve the stunning and pristine environment we call home.
What is the Great Bear Rainforest?
Did you know the Great Bear Rainforest is the LAST intact temperate rainforest? It can be found on BC's north and central coast, covering over 6.4 million hectares of land. It has become a popular destination for international tourists and domestic travellers alike and is specifically known for its biodiversity, captivating landscapes, an array of wildlife, and majestic waterways.
Legends, Lands and Traditions
The Great Bear Rainforest harbours vast resources valuable to Coast First Nations, the Nuxalk, Ulkatcho and many other First Nations, as well as being home to some of the most abundant wildlife known. The fjords and estuaries are habitats to porpoises and harbour seals; the temperate Great Bear Rainforest for grizzly bears, bald eagles and deer; and the more arid Chilcotin Plateau for moose, grizzlies and caribou.
Home to some of the country's most diverse species, the rainforest safeguards the rare cream-coloured Kermode bear or spirit bear. This animal, found exclusively in the Great Bear Rainforest, is considered sacred by the T'simshian people (please note: spirit bears cannot be viewed at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge).
Significance and Legacy of the Rainforest
Really, it's simple: we ALL depend on healthy ecosystems to survive. But why? Forests provide habitats for 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species, and 68 percent of mammal species! But what about plants? We know that about 60 percent of all vascular plants are found in tropical forests, adding to the benefits of this spectacular ecosystem. This all leads to one great outcome – new life!
In 2016, stakeholders rallied to forge a plan to secure the future of the Great Bear Rainforest. This initiative means more old- and second-growth forests will be protected while ensuring opportunities for economic development and jobs for local First Nations. The Government of BC calls this strategy an Ecosystem-Based Management approach, combining science and tradition to ensure the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest from logging and other damage.
Our Action Plan
The Great Bear Rainforest is our home. It's our goal to go above and beyond the minimum required and instead positively impact the environment. We purchase carbon offsets that support The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project (GBFCP), an improved forest management project. By doing this, we actively help restore and protect its surrounding environment by converting forests previously approved for commercial logging into protected ecosystems. This initiative helps preserve vulnerable pockets of BC's old-growth forests. These forests play an essential role in capturing and storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide within the trees, sprouting a thriving ecosystem.
Working with local First Nations communities to preserve tradition is part of our process to preserve this incredible environment. Funds from the GBFCP also support local First Nations and educational platforms, encouraging others to join the fight against climate change.
On top of purchasing carbon offsets to protect the sacred rainforest, Bella Coola Heli Sports, our award-winning heli-skiing company, is working on policies to reduce carbon emissions company-wide! We are offsetting more than we emit and hope to inspire other companies to join the fight against climate change just as others inspired us.
On June 5th, World Environment Day, we encourage you to learn more about sacred and protected destinations, educate yourself before adventuring, and support tourism that contributes to fighting climate change.
To find out more about Tweedsmuir Park Lodge’s commitment to environmental stewardship, click here.
Photo: In this photo, one of our guides shows guests a grizzly bear path near Tweedsmuir Park Lodge. Taken by Jesaja Class Photography.