Spectacular Photos Reveal Newly Protected Great Bear Rainforest

An area the size of Ireland is now protected from logging.

Long heralded as the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, the Great Bear forest in western British Columbia is home to a stunning array of wildlife, from birds to wolves to the iconic white Kermode, or spirit, bears. Conservationists and First Nations peoples have battled logging interests in the unique landscape for decades, but now a deal has been struck to preserve most of the forest.

British Columbia introduced legislation this week that will protect 85 percent of the 6.4 million-hectare rainforest from logging. Province Premier Christy Clark called the protection a gift from British Columbia “to the entire world” at a ceremony this week.

In a statement, Sierra Club spokesman Jens Wieting called the new law a success.

"We are hopeful we have provided a beacon of light for how to move ahead in the 21st century,'' he said.