Conservation Priorities

Pacific Wild's focus area is the northern portion of the Pacific coast of Canada, also known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Bounded by Bute Inlet to the south and the Alaskan panhandle to the north, this region contains a significant portion of the world’s remaining intact temperate rainforest. Historically, this forest type occupied less than 0.2% of the earth’s land mass; it remains one of the rarest forest types on the planet.

This coastal rainforest supports many threatened and globally unique marine and terrestrial species. Over two thousand separate runs of Pacific salmon intertwine through an ecosystem rich with wildlife, including genetically distinct wolves, the all-white spirit bear and Canada's largest grizzly bears, in addition to many species of marine mammals.

Today, 70% of this rainforest ecosystem is unprotected and threatened with industrial logging, mining and other resource extraction proposals. As yet, less than 1% of the marine environment has been protected, while trophy hunting of large carnivores, such as grizzly bears and wolves, is sanctioned by the British Columbia (B.C.) government even in parks and protected areas. However, large-scale and sustained opportunities for conservation of these iconic animals and relatively pristine ecosystems still exist on the north coast of B.C.

Pacific Wild addresses our conservation priorities through research, education and advocacy in the following three areas: Ocean, Land and Communities.

Ocean

Canada ranks last among the 10 countries with the largest ocean territories for its record on marine protection (CPAWS 2014). We have the longest coastline in the world, but only 1.3% of our ocean territory is under meaningful long-term protection. Scientific estimates for conservation of biodiversity indicate that 50% of Canada’s oceans should be protected, which means that below that level species will be lost from our waters.

The Great Bear Sea is one of Canada’s marine hotspots of biodiversity, containing critical habitat for threatened humpback whales, northern resident killer whales, transient killer whales and many other species. Supertanker traffic, open net-cage salmon farms, seismic testing for oil and gas reserves and unsustainable fishing practices are some of the immediate threats to the marine environment. 

The Great Bear Sea represents the opportunity to protect a quiet sanctuary from industrial activity, where species such as the humpback whale and Pacific herring may continue to recover. Click here to see our full list of initiatives to study and protect marine life in the Great Bear Sea. 

Land

For decades, Pacific Wild team members have fought against intensive clearcut logging in the intact salmon-bearing river valleys of the Great Bear Rainforest. Today, 30% of the land base of the Great Bear, including most of those valleys, are protected under various conservancy designations. There are still many outstanding candidate areas for protection, and there is much work to be done to ensure that resource extraction in unprotected areas is done sustainably under the Ecosystem-Based Management approach. 

In the Great Bear Rainforest, grizzlies suffer from trophy hunting and poaching, declining salmon stocks, as well as habitat fragmentation due to logging. Grizzly bear viewing has become an important economic generator for several coastal First Nations communities, creating far more employment than does trophy hunting, and yet the unethical “sport” hunt continues unabated in most protected areas.

Despite a mountain of evidence that wolves are an essential part of many North American ecosystems, these apex predators are not protected from cruel treatment of population decline under B.C.'s Wolf Management Policy.

Learn more about our work to protect terrestrial ecosystems and wildlife in the Great Bear.

Community


The Great Bear Rainforest is home to many First Nations that have lived here since time immemorial. Their members make up the majority of the population on the outer central and north coast of B.C., and have been working hard to reclaim stewardship over resources in their remote territories. They are building their own capacity for research, monitoring and management using both traditional and modern science and practice.

Pacific Wild partners with local First Nations in several programs that are designed to build capacity for wildlife and environmental monitoring. We also support these communities in their efforts to tackle environmental threats including tanker traffic, overfishing of herring, trophy hunting and marine pollution.

As a founding partner in the SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) Community Initiative, Pacific Wild provides educational and employment opportunities for aboriginal youth to build the skills, capacity and experience they need to participate in the conservation economy of the region. Read more about our Community initiatiatives here.