Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great Bear Rainforest Threatened by Oil Pipeline (Video) *Home of the Spirit Bear*


Spirit Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei)

Great Bear Rainforest The pristine Great Bear Rainforest is in British Columbia and mostly accessible by aircraft via water or by water. This untouched ecosystem is threatened by a proposed oil pipeline running from Alberta to British Columbia. National Geographic calls this the pipeline through paradise. The oil pipeline would run through Great Bear Rainforest plus the oil terminal would be on this wild coast of British Columbia, a bay of the forest. The proposed twin pipeline would be 1,200 kilometers in length. Oil tankers would load the oil on the coast and transport it to China. Ian McAllister, Director of Pacific Wild, says, "The idea of a supertanker in a place like this would destroy it forever."

Photographing the Rainforest Wildlife and landscape photographers of the International League of Conservation Photographers are converging on the Great Bear Rainforest to assist in saving this unpolluted ecosystem through photos documenting the magnificent scenery and diverse wildlife. Paul Nicklen, of National Geographic, photographed the iconic Spirit Bears. To locate these elusive bears, Nicklen says, "You have to have patience and passion. There are very few Spirit Bears. You have to put in 18 hour days for 6 weeks at a time just to get a few glimpses of this white bear". Ian McAllister adds, "Our hope is that this place will be illustrated in images so that we can show the world what's really at stake here".

Spirit Bears Marvin Robinson is a guide, tracker, and member of the Git’gat First Nations, which is native to the Great Bear Rainforest. His tribe considers the Spear Bear as sacred and until recently only spoke of the bear in whispers. The Spirit Bear is a subspecies of the American Black Bear and some, estimated at 10%, have a white or cream coat due to a recessive gene. The Spirit Bear with a population of less than 500 is more rare than Panda Bears and is sometimes called "Canada's Panda". The Git’gat First Nations is among tribes that are opposing the "pipeline through paradise". BC’s Coastal First Nations have declared a unified opposition to oil tankers in their traditional territories, including the Great Bear Rainforest.

Pipeline Defender Some say the pipeline would skirt the Great Bear Rainforest and only travel through the region in double-hull oil tankers, guided by tugboats. John Carruthers, President of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, says, "We believe the potential of a spill is remote. We'll also put in very thorough plans as to what we would do in the event of a spill. The public needs to understand that we can respond effectively, if there is an incident". However, an Enbridge pipeline burst in Michigan, spilling a million gallons of oil into a river that flows into the Great Lakes.

The Hunt for the Rare Spirit Bears Searching for spirit bears, a rare white bear species revered by locals. After 3 days of searching, led by Git’gat guide Marvin Robinson, the ABC News team sees a spirit bear. The Great Bear Rainforest, one of the "last truly wild places on Earth".

Slide Show: Spirit Bears and the Great Bear Rainforest Conservationists hope photo spread will bring attention to pipeline proposal. Click here to see photos of the awe-inspiring Great Bear Rainforest.

Pacific Wild is a non-profit conservation organization that is committed to defending wildlife and their habitat on Canada’s Pacific coast.

International League of Conservation Photographers
To further environmental and cultural conservation through communication initiatives aimed at creating vital content and disseminating conservation messages to a wide variety of audiences.

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