January 29, 2007

Ottawa pledges $30M to fund for preserving BC's Spirit Bear Rainforest

VANCOUVER, BC-The federal government will contribute $30 million to support British Columbia's Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative (CIII) fund, Environment Minister John Baird said recently. This fund, supported by governments and private foundations, is aimed at preserving the integrity of the Spirit Bear Rainforest for generations to come. The planned federal commitment matches the $30 million for economic development initiatives for First Nations on the coast committed by the province. Private conservation organizations and philanthropic associations have pledged a further $60 million in contributions for conservation activities, pending matching funding from the government for economic development. With the federal commitment, the total public and private funding has reached $120 million. The ancient forest is the largest intact temperate rainforest left on earth. It contains 1,000-year-old cedar trees and 90-metre-tall Sitka spruce lining rich salmon streams, and is home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals. In February 2006, the BC government approved the Central Coast and North Coast land use plans, which set aside protected areas for these regions totalling 1.8 million hectares-more than three times the size of Prince

Edward Island. This includes more than 200,000 hectares of the Spirit Bear's habitat, including the 103,000-hectare Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy, created by legislation last year.

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