"This is the land of Only. The only place on earth where wolves rely on salmon; the only place on earth where five species of salmon fertilize the forest with their bodies, hauled in by wolves and bears and birds and weasels who all have a gluttonous tendency to leave half-eaten carcasses rotting into the moss, in turn to feed the trees - scientists have found salmon-specific nitrogen isotopes in the uppermost needles of these conifers, the only place on earth you'll see that. If you can't find an only, other superlatives will do. This is the biggest contiguous stretch of temperate rain forest on earth. Despite the industrial onslaughts of the twentieth century, this ocean-forest hybrid still harbours the greatest biomass density of any ecosystem in the world."
- Arno Kopecky, The Oil Man And The Sea
My own awareness of the issues facing British Columbia’s northern coastline, now commonly referred to as The Great Bear Rainforest, came by way of a short movie directed by Ben Gulliver called Tipping Barrels. The movie inspired me to donate and volunteer time with Pacific Wild, a nonprofit organization committed to defending wildlife and their habitat in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Between 2013 and 2014, under the pal of a major oil pipeline project known as Northern Gateway, myself and other dedicated volunteers designed and built a media-focused online platform for Pacific Wild to grow their reach and increase public consciousness about the GBR. I also spearheaded the creation and fertilisation of their popular Instagram Account by helping Ian McAllister’s share his amazing photography and video content with the world.
At the time of volunteering it was almost a foregone conclusion that the Northern Gateway Pipeline would be approved and that an Exxon Valdez-like disaster in the GBR would become a real possibility. Perseverance and dedication paid off, however. In a huge victory for Pacific Wild and all those who fought for protection of the GBR, the Justin Trudeau government declared the Northern Gateway Project officially put to rest at the end of 2016. The Government of British Columbia, too, has also announced an agreement to permanently protect 85% of the old-growth forested area from industrial logging. And yet, despite these amazing wins, the fight continues. A major LNG project is in the works and threatens the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Sea and it’s wildlife, while fuel barges, like the ill-fated Nathan E. Stewart, continue to pass through the GBR without regulation. If we’re to truly protect the GBR for future generations, what’s really needed is a complete moratorium on ALL tanker traffic.
Like Tipping Barrels did for me, the images I share here are meant to inspire others who may not know or understand the unique and irreplaceable nature of the Great Bear's wildlife and ecology. Canadians and environmentally-conscious citizens need to know this place exists, because if you don’t know it exists, or don’t understand why it’s important, you have zero incentive to stand-up for it. Poet and naturalist Baba Dioum said it best, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”