Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tracking the Great Bear: How Environmentalists Recreated British Columbia's Coastal Rainforest

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Tracking the Great Bear: How Environmentalists Recreated British Columbia's Coastal Rainforest

Article excerpt

Justin Page, Tracking the Great Bear: How Environmentalists Recreated British Columbia's Coastal Rainforest (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2014), 176 pp. Cased. $85. ISBN 978-0-7748-2671-6. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-2672-3.

This slim volume continues UBC Press's Nature (History) Society series on environmental history under the general editorship of Graeme Wynn. It focuses on the mid- and north coastal rainforest of British Columbia, which comprises 20% of the Earth's remaining temperate rainforest. It details the reconceptualisation of this Timber Supply Area into the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) over the past 20 years. BC's forests under went a massive, largely uncontested assault by timber companies during 1945-85 under provincial government regulation, as evidenced by the numerous highly visible 'clearcuts' in the province. Campaigns by environmental NGOs (ENGOs) in the 1980s and 1990s to save the remaining pristine old-growth forests focused on the south of the province and Vancouver Island, especially Clayoquot Sound, and the Stein, Carmanah, and Walbran Valleys in the so-called 'wars-of-the-woods'.

The GBR Agreement of 2006 (the Joint Solutions Project, JSP) represents a major achievement between all interested parties in resolving probable future conflicts in central and north BC. To say, somewhat baldly, that this book explores the chronology of events leading to that agreement is, however, to understate seriously the author's analytical approach. It is a study in 'environmental sociology', rather than a study in conservation history. Prominent is the use of actor network theor y (ANT) exploring, by interview techniques, how conflict resolution was achieved among the disparate parties: viz. logging companies, labour unions, ENGOs, forestry communities, First Nations communities, and not least the provincial government with its constitutional rights of the governance of Crown Lands. …

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