Clayoquot Environmental Protesting
The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
The significance of the Clayoquot Sound’s ancient rain forests, rivers lakes, islands and wildlife were realized by the world a few years ago when the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Clayoquot as a biosphere reserve. This designation stemmed from the community’s shared desire to protect the ecosystems of the Clayoquot Sound.
In the early 1990’s, a group of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people began working with various community groups in Tofino to develop new models of sustainable development and conservation in the area with the ultimate hope of having the Clayoquot Sound designated by the United Nations as a Biosphere Reserve. In 2001, UNESCO officially designated the Clayoquot Sound a Biosphere Reserve. The designation demonstrates international recognition of the shared vision of First Nations people and community members to achieve social, environmental and economic sustainability within the Clayoquot Sound. With the designation came a $12 million federal grant for the endowment of communities in the Clayoquot Sound region. With UNESCO recognition, the Clayoquot Sound today is considered a global laboratory for sustainable development. The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust continuously funds research, education and training initiatives that work towards the conservation and community health of the Clayoquot Sound
Activism in the Clayoquot Sound
Despite UNESCO’s designation, the Clayoquot Sound has not been granted any additional environmental regulations or protections and logging companies are chomping at the bit to get their hands on the old growth forest here. History has shown though that no trees will be chopped down without a fight from environmental activists in this area and beyond.
In the summer of 1993, this area became center stage for the fight between logging companies and environmental activists. At this time, the British Columbia government has just made the ‘Clayoquot Land Use Decision’ permitting the logging of the majority of Clayoquot’s pristine old growth forest. In response to the decision, over 12,000 protestors descended on the area in a massive campaign of peaceful civil disobedience. This was the largest peaceful act of civil disobedience in Canada’s history. Activists formed human blockades, leaving no access to logging sites. Over 850 people were arrested but ultimately, the campaign was a victory for the activists. Media attention towards the protests helped gain the support of major organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club and today, fourteen years later, the majority of the old growth forest remains intact.
The success of the 1993 protests does not guarantee a safe future for the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound. The Clayoquot Land Use Decision made in the early ‘90’s still stands and new plans to log Clayoquot Sound’s old growth valleys have been approved.
Learn more about Kayaking Clayoquot Area with Kits Kayaking Tours