Deal made to save rare Spirit Bears

In a huge victory for environmentalists, the B.C. government is set to announce it is creating a sanctuary for the rare Kermode Bear, also known as the Spirit Bear.

LINK: Greenpeace

LINK: Forest Action Network

LINK: Spirit Bear Youth Coalition

A land-use agreement will ban logging in selected areas of the so-called Great Bear Rainforest, which includes ancient coastal forests about 500 kilometres north of Vancouver.

Environmentalists, forest companies and eight coastal native groups are all party to the agreement.

B.C. Environment Minister Ian Waddell says the deal should help B.C. regain markets it has lost because of the international campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest.

"I think it's going to be historic," he says. "It will help us immensely in international markets. I think it will give some certainty to land use planning and I think finally it's going to preserve the territory for the so-called Spirit Bear, the Kermode or white bear up in the Prince William Island area."

Several major American retailers have been boycotting Great Bear wood, and there have been similar boycotts in Japan and Europe.

It's expected that forest companies will be compensated for loss of logging privileges.