The Great Bear Rainforest is an ecosystem of global importance and a vital, natural, cultural and economic resource for First Nations, coastal communities and British Columbia. Success here means protecting the ecological integrity of the land while respecting indigenous cultures and strengthening local economies.

Photo by Ken Beatty.

Conceived by a group of women strategizing to keep the remaining old growth forests of Northern BC Coast intact and magnificent, the hard won Great Bear Rainforest took on a life of its own. Saving numbered “Cut Blocks” didn’t really capture the imagination, so they gave the distant coastal lands a name to remember.

Renewal, Endswell and many of our grantees and partners, including Tides Canada Foundation, Tides Canada Initiatives and the Hollyhock Leadership Institute, have played critical roles in creating the circumstances, structuring the model, negotiating the agreement, and delivering funding for this globally significant model of conservation. The group of women went on to lead several of the key environmental organizations over the last 20 years and the trees and habitat remains largely intact as the largest tract of intact coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth.

The Great Bear Rainforest is a vast region. It supports tremendous biodiversity including unique bear and wolf populations, six million migratory birds, three thousand genetically distinct salmon stocks and a multitude of unique botanical resources. Two thirds the size of England it includes over 100 unlogged large watersheds and sustains 20% of the world’s wild salmon.

After over a decade of exceptionally hard work, an unprecedented and historical alliance among First Nations, government, coastal communities, environmental groups, industry and philanthropic organizations crafted a new model of conservation. This will both preserve the ecosystem and help develop a sustainable economic base to support the people within the region. This project is a model for the world of what conservation must become in the 21st century – an inherent part of economics, environments, and cultures.

Renewal provided senior staff and expertise on social finance and institutional structures. Through Endswell we supported, extensively, the capacity and collaboration development among the key environmental organizations. Carol Newell, via Endswell, was a lead donor for the Canadian portion of the $60 million private funding campaign to match the $60 million of public funds. Additionally, we offered facilities, staff support, accommodations, and our networks in support of the ongoing coalition building and negotiations.

Tides Canada has administered funding from the consortium of foundations that supported work in the Great Bear Rainforest and led the Canadian fundraising campaign.