The Great Bear Rainforest agreement is a victory for everyone involved, including the forest industry, said its members after yesterday’s announcement signaled that 15 per cent of the forest was open to logging.

The agreement also protects 85 per cent of the coastal temperate rainforest, which stretches from B.C.’s Discovery Islands to Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest, and took a decade of negotiations between the province, environmentalists, First Nations, and the forest industry.

“It provides a certainty,” said Rick Jeffery, president and CEO of Coast Forest Products Association.

“Knowing that we have access to that, knowing what the running rules are to operate there, provides us the platform to be able to invest in our workers in our communities, in our facilities, to be able to move the industry forward.”

The forestry industry will have 550,000 hectares to work with, and with stringent standards in place meant to enforce sustainable logging, that forest will live on for more than 200 years he said.

‘Ecological integrity and human well-being’

Jeffery, who was the chief negotiator for the forest companies in the deal, says the agreement, “one of the most complex deals you can imagine,” boiled down to two goals.

“One of the things that allowed us to get to this deal is we had twin objectives that were agreed by everybody … to provide ecological integrity and human well-being in the region.”

Foresters have to meet 8,000 different targets before they can start logging, according to Jeffery.

“[The targets] determine where protection exists and it’ll define where the working forest is. That level of planning is unprecedented in the world.”

The agreement will undergo a review after 10 years and forestry companies are required to provide annual updates according to Jeffery.