Canada's 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. The Canadian government's landmark deal will permanently protect 85 percent of the rainforest from logging and development.
First Nations, the 26 indigenous groups that live within the area, were prime negotiators surrounding the terms of the agreement for the Great Bear Rainforest, which is home to many of Canada's unique species, including the spirit bear, a rare sub-species of black bear with white fur.
"This is huge, the fact that this isn't just a conservation agreement, that we've integrated the concept of an economy that can sustain itself within an ecosystem,"said Valerie Langer, a director at ForestEthics, one of the leading environmental groups behind the deal. "Our goal was to [figure out] how we were going to shift our economy so we don't destroy what we live in."
"In other places in the world, people are fighting to protect 1 or 2 percent [of the environment," Richard Brooks, forest campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Canada, said. "To be able to accomplish something on this scale ... set aside forever, that means the vast majority of the old growth forest will continue will continue to live on.