This amazing forest is part of the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Great Bear Rainforest!
1. The forest is located on the west coast of Canada
The Great Bear Rainforest is a huge temperate rainforest located in British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada which is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.
The rainforest runs all across the Pacific coast, from the Discovery Islands in the south, the small islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, all the way north to the border of British Columbia and Alaska.
One of the most remarkable facts about the Great Bear Rainforest is that all islands along the Pacific Coast are included in it, except Vancouver Island and the archipelago of Haida Gwaii.
2. The Great Bear Rainforest covers an enormous area
Because the rainforest runs all across the western part of Canada, it covers a total area of 64,000 square kilometers (25,000 square miles). That’s the equivalent of 6.4 million hectares or 15.81 million acres!
What makes this number even more astounding is that most of the rainforest consists of old-growth forests, meaning there hasn’t been much human interference with it. This is also referred to as virgin forest which forms a mature ecosystem.
The forest is part of the Pacific temperate rainforest ecoregion, the largest coastal temperate rainforest on the planet!
3. It has only been officially recognized since February 2016
One of the most intriguing facts about the Great Bear Rainforest is that it has only been recognized as such since February 2016. This is when an agreement was made to protect the rainforest. The protected area was officially established on May 19, 2016.
It’s been described as one of the few areas in the world where an untouched wild area meets a wild ocean and is one of the few places in the world where a coastal temperate rainforest hasn’t suffered from human activity.
4. The decision to protect the rainforest took many years
The original plan to protect the area came in the early 1990s when environmentalists pushed to protect a much smaller area near Vancouver Island called the “Clayoquot Sound region.” This successful campaign became the template to protect the much larger area encompassing the entire region running across the Pacific Ocean.
An initial compromise was agreed in 2004 which included the protection of about 33% of the Great Bear Rainforest, which was much less than the 44-70% recommended by scientists.
Regardless, this was a first step in the right direction as both the logging companies and environmental organizations had been involved in fierce discussions for multiple years already by then, a battle referred to back then as the “War of the Woods.”
5. most of the forest is now protected from logging
The agreement didn’t instantly mean that the rainforest was completely protected. It took a couple more years before the government of British Columbia officially announced the protection of an area stretching about 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the Pacific Coast. This happened in early February of 2006.
On January 21, 2007, the Canadian Government announced that they would spend CAD 30 million to protect the rainforest. The same amount was made available by the local government and CAD 60 million was collected from private donations as well, making the total budget CAD 120 million!
Just a year later, Greenpeace launched a campaign titled “Keep the Promise” because nothing was being done yet. It wouldn’t be until February 1, 2016, that the government of British Columbia officially recognized the Great Bear Rainforest and announced that about 85% of the 6.4 million hectares were officially protected from logging!
6. It contains some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world
One of the most amazing facts about the Great Bear rainforest is that this old-growth forest contains some of the most remarkable trees in the world, similar to the giants growing in the Redwood National Park in northern California.
One species of tree is the “western red cedar” (Thuja plicata), also referred to as “giant cedars,” which are over 1,000 years old. It’s also home to the “Sitka spruce” (Picea sitchensis), a tree with a diameter of up to 5 meters (16 feet) that can grow nearly 100 meters (330 feet) tall!
7. A wide variety of wild animals live in the rainforest
As the name of the forest implies, it’s home to several bears, including the American black bear and the grizzly bear. This doesn’t mean, however, that these are the only creatures roaming around here!
The forest is home to a large variety of animals, including salmon in the rivers and dangerous animals such as the grey wolf and the mountain lion.
8. It’s home to a white subspecies of the American black bear
One of the most fascinating animals living in the Great Bear Rainforest is the “Kermode bear,” also referred to as the “spirit bear.” This is a subspecies of the American black bear but some of them have a peculiar appearance.
About 10 to 20% of the Kermode bear population is white, while the other individuals are completely black. Only these recessive white-colored bears are referred to as spirit bears and they are considered to be the official provincial mammal of British Columbia.
This bear species was named after Frank Kermode, a man who used to be the director of the Royal B.C. Museum. Only between 100 and 500 spirit bears are living in the wild today!