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Forestry prof laments Great Bear plan

The provincial government's Great Bear Rainforest plan was released on Tuesday to much fanfare from environmental groups and media.

News of the plan reached news outlets as far away as Los Angeles, and most reports focused on the success of the plan in protecting more than two million hectares of forest in the North and Central Coast region.

Not everyone viewed it as cause for celebration, however.

Political scientist and UBC forestry professor George Hoberg offered a lament for the Great Bear Rainforest on his blog today.

"I honour the enormous amount of work done by all stakeholders in searching for common ground. I'm proud that the province has made such enormous strides in sharing governance with First Nations who have called the region home for millennia. But I'm also very disappointed in the conversation gains reflected in this announcement," Hoberg wrote.

"The core of the government's new EBM [ecosystem-based management] decision is the commitment to "Low-impact logging regulations that will conserve 50 per cent of the natural range of old growth forests," he writes.

"The first point to make is that this region-wide commitment to 50% is a far cry from the landscape level commitment to 70% representation that environmentalists had been considering their bottom line. It's exactly half way between what environmentalists wanted and what other parties wanted. A simple compromise by splitting it down the middle.

The dismal state of forest products markets means that industrial pressures for logging the region in the near future are likely to be limited. And environmentalists have apparently gotten a commitment from the government to revisit the issue of moving up to 70% within 5 years. Maybe that means there's continued reason for optimism. Based on this decision, though, the conservationist side of me is not feeling celebratory."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Hook.

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