The Great Bear Coast

A massive oil pipeline project threatens the very heart of the Great Bear. It will destroy the cultural, ecological, and economic values of this region and it is a big step back from the hard work done to manage and safeguard this global treasure.

 / ©: Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
© Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
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© Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
Two decades ago, almost every valley of the Great Bear rainforest was slated for clearcut logging.

After 15 years of conflict and negotiation, First Nations communities, forest companies, environmental organizations, governments, and philanthropic foundations created a world-leading model of ecosystem management for the region.

As this group works to secure the future of this extraordinary place, the world once again faces the threat of losing it all.

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An ecological treasure

Often called ‘Canada’s Amazon’, the Great Bear Coast is truly one of the world’s greatest natural gems, combining beauty, majesty, history, diversity and culture all in one.

In the lush rainforest stand 1,000 year old cedar trees and 90 metre tall Sitka spruce trees, with hundreds of salmon runs weaving through the valley bottom, emptying into rivers that feed the Great Bear Sea.

It is one of the few places on Earth where one may chance upon a Grizzly bear hiding behind the thick trees, a humpback whale diving into the sea, and a great albatross soaring across the skies, all from just one viewing spot!

This coast is home to more than 30 indigenous First Nation communities with archaeological evidence dating their presence back to at least 10,000 years.
 / ©: Tim Irvin / WWF Canada
© Tim Irvin / WWF Canada

Threats

The Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline project proposes to build twin pipelines 1,170 km long from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat BC, bisecting the Great Bear region.

The proposed project, slated for decision by the Canadian government in 2014, will transport 525,000 barrels per day of toxic diluted bitumen over hundreds of salmon rivers to BC’s coast.

From here, more than 220 supersized oil tankers will transport it through narrow channels over crucial habitat for endangered humpback whales.

What you can do

In November, WWF and Coastal First Nations will launch our final push to convince Canada’s government to say “no” to the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline proposal. You can help now by learning more about this issue, engaging your friends and family, and sharing this message widely: The Great Bear is no place for an oil pipeline.

Impact of the project

The biggest threat from this massive project is the repercussions of an inevitable oil spill.

The Great Bear’s waters are among the most treacherous in the world, known to mariners for heavy weather and unpredictable and dangerous waves. Yet, oil tankers as long as the Empire State Building are expected to undertake the impossible task of navigating through them without accident. The ability or capacity to respond to an oil spill in these waters simply does not exist, and there is no technology on Earth that can clean up a diluted bitumen spill at sea.

Apart from the more obvious impact on biodiversity, this project will also lead to heavy economic losses. Currently, the region’s ocean based industry supports approximately 10,000 full-time jobs and is valued at over $1 billion. An oil spill in this region would decimate that industry and those jobs, and could cost Canadians as much as $9 billion in short-term recovery efforts alone.

In the face of such catastrophic implications of this project, it is clear that the Great Bear coast is no place for an oil pipeline.

 / ©: Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
© Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada

Standing up for the Great Bear Coast

Together with Coastal First Nations, who hold title to this land, WWF is taking action.

We have mobilized Canadians to oppose the pipeline, engaged B.C.’s premier, and raised awareness about the devastating impact the proposed development would have on the ecosystems, economies, and communities in the Great Bear.

Exceptional Canadians from all walks of life have joined the cause and, this past June, the government of British Columbia took a stand against the project.

Now, as Canada’s federal government deliberates a decision, we need Canadians and our global community to rally behind the Great Bear and say “no” to the oil pipeline.

 / ©: Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
© Andrew S. Wright / WWF Canada
Great Bear Region at risk rel=
Great Bear Region at risk
© WWF

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