UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Great bear markets : the interface of finance, forestry and conservation in BC's Great Bear Rainforest Norden, Andrew; Tansey, James


Human population growth and infrastructure development are putting unprecedented pressure on global ecosystems. Many government efforts to “command and control” the protection of ecosystems have met with limited success at best. The introduction of market-based mechanisms for embedded ecosystem services is a contemporary solution to protect and preserve some of the precious and pristine wilderness areas. This paper explores some of the marketbased mechanisms for ecosystem services in the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR), located on the North and Central Coast of British Columbia in western Canada. Carbon offsets, are used to combat climate change, have been generated from the GBR. By preventing the forest from being harvested, carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the wood. Additional stored carbon can be monetized and sold to greenhouse gas emitters to offset their carbon footprint. A number of challenges were overcome to generate this carbon offset project, most notably the ownership related to unextinguished rights and title from indigenous land claims. The new nature of the market meant it was very much a learning experience for project developers and other stakeholders but also posed challenges for marketing efforts since potential buyers remain cautious due to regulatory uncertainty of greenhouse gas emission liabilities. More traditional market-based instruments are also existent in the Great Bear Rainforest. Ecotourism, hunting, logging and fishing licenses are all used extensively throughout the area. However, the price of these licenses appears to be far below true value. The proliferation of public land and provincial economic policies suppress market activity for such licenses, and appear to be the driving force behind such market imperfection.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada