A landmark achievement in global conservation.
In the days following the Clayoquot Sound campaigns, Ross McMillan was named provincial co-chair of a land and resource management board in Clayoquot Sound, and began forging a relationship with the environmental community. In 2000 a coalition of activists asked him a favour: to facilitate their efforts in what would later be hailed the largest integrated conservation program in North America—the Great Bear Rainforest Campaign. Ross’ initial contribution evolved into an eight-year engagement, and it’s not over yet. “It’s been a long journey, but I’m elated to have been part of it,” says Ross. Targeting 21 million acres along the British Columbia coast, the Great Bear Rainforest Campaign was the first of its kind, a regional effort addressing land use issues as well as conservation financing. “The concept was to make conservation good for the economy—for First Nations and other local communities to benefit from the land use outcome and diversify their economies away from unsustainable resource extraction,” explains Ross.
The Great Bear Rainforest Campaign was the brainchild of activists who were among the earliest members of the Renewal community. Throughout the campaign, Renewal Partners and Endswell have provided a range of support, from donations to conservation groups, to retreats at Hollyhock, to grants for First Nations, to senior expertise in social investing—including access to talent from across North America. “Endswell’s earliest visionary granting has sewn seeds that are now taking hold even more broadly than the campaign,” says Ross. “There’s nothing but potential going forward.”
At present, the Great Bear Rainforest Campaign is succeeding on all fronts. The land use discussions resulted in protecting one third of the rainforest from logging, with a promise for Ecosystem-Based Management in the remaining areas by March 31, 2009. The conservation financing package totaled $120 million, including an unprecedented $60 million from foundations, $30 million from the BC government and $30 million from the federal government. The lessons learned are already benefiting new initiatives. “Our successes to date have been a victory for First Nations, NGOs, the philanthropic community and government,” says Ross. All stakeholders are still hard at work, striving to realize the full vision.