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7 wondrous facts about the Great Bear Rainforest

Sunday, January 31, 2016 12:08
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Aerial view of the Great Bear Rainforest. 9 Sep, 2007 © Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace

Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest: there’s no other place like it on the planet. As one of the world’s largest remaining coastal temperate rainforests, some of the richest and most wondrous ecosystems on Earth are found here. It is also home to many First Nations.

Over the years that I’ve been working on this two decade-long campaign to safeguard the Great Bear Rainforest, I have met incredible people, spent time in deeply-rooted communities and have learned some truly wondrous things about this place.

Here are my top seven facts about the Great Bear Rainforest:

1. There are at least 26 First Nations whose unceded traditional territories make up the Great Bear Rainforest.

Nuxalk Nation members play music in logged forest. 1 Jun, 1997 © Greenpeace / Ivan Hunter

2. First Nations have ancient village sites going back at least 10,000 years, if not longer.

Kvai Big House Opening - Heiltsuk First Nation territory, Great Bear Rainforest 2006 / Photo: Steph Goodwin  Petroglyph - Nuxalk First Nation traditional territory / Photo: Jens Wietin

3. Cedar trees and their use have been deeply intertwined with the cultural and spiritual life of First Nations for millennia.

Cedar forest, Sonora Island Photo: Camille Eriksson

4. The rare, elusive white Spirit Bear can only be found in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

Spirit Bear in Great Bear Rainforest. 17 Oct, 2007 © Andrew Wright /

5. Why do trees grow so large in the old-growth forests of the Great Bear? Because bears leave their partially eaten salmon in the forest, like offerings, for the trees and soil to absorb the nutrients. In fact salmon DNA has been found in the old trees!

Salmon carcass left by bears in Great Bear Rainforest - Gitgaat Territory / Photo: Eduardo Sousa

6. The threatened marbled murrelet doesn’t build a nest. Instead makes a depression in the moss found in the canopy of old-growth trees.

A marbled murrelet floats on the sea. Martin Raphael, U.S. Forest Service

7. There are some great live cam websites that take you into the seas and rainforests of the Great Bear — such as here and here.

If you haven’t visited this magnificent part of the world, you need to go! If you have visited, share with us your own top seven in the comments.

Eduardo Sousa is senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.

A version of this blog was originally posted by Greenpeace Canada.


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