animals, environment, politics

Protecting Canada’s Great Bear Rain Forest

British Columbia Premiere Gordon Campbell on Tuesday announced a historic agreement among what the New York Times calls “an improbable assemblage of officials from the provincial government, coastal Native Canadian nations, logging companies and environmental groups.” The area protected is equivalent to one quarter of all the world’s coastal temperate rainforest. In the deal, 4.4. million acres are completely protected as parkland and 11.6 million are eligible for managed sustainable forestry.

What makes the deal itself unique is that so many parties that are often considered traditional adversaries were able to work together and forge a compromise. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed a pretty good article, which blends information from the AP and the NY Times article (which is very good):

“It’s like a revolution,” said Merran Smith, director of the British Columbia Coastal Program of Forest Ethics, an environmental group. “It’s a new way of thinking about how you do forestry. It’s about approaching business with a conservation motive upfront, instead of an industrial approach to the forest.

And what is unique to the forest itself is its astounding ecological diversity. According to Clifford Krauss in the Times:

Because 15 feet of rain can fall in a year, the Great Bear has never suffered a major forest fire. That has allowed some of the tallest and oldest trees on earth to thrive, including cedars more than a thousand years old.An estimated 20 percent of the world’s remaining wild salmon swim through the forest’s fjords, including coho and sockeye, whose spawning grounds were threatened by erosion caused by past logging. Largely intact because of its remoteness, the forest contains an abundance of wolverines, bats, peregrine falcons, marbled murrelet sea birds and coastal tailed frogs.

The ecological richness is immediately apparent to the few people who visit. Within minutes of a recent helicopter visit to Princess Royal Island, in the heart of the rain forest, a group of visitors saw a pack of six gray and black wolves, a seal and numerous bald eagles and swans.

“Look at the forest move,” said Marven Robinson, 36, a Gitga’at guide, as eagles glided through the moist air and the wolf pack played hide-and-seek with the visitors along a channel of diaphanous water. “As long as there is a spirit bear, we’re going the right way.”

The spirit bear Robinson refers to, and pictured here (by Marni Grossman), is also called the Kermode or ghost bear. Found only in this region, these white bears are actually relatively rare black bears expressing a recessive gene.

The Times also mentions that “a deluge of postcards and demonstrations by groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace at shareholders meetings and retail outlets pressed American, Japanese and European hardware chains to shun products from the area.” That certainly helped bring the loggers to the table. The Planet, which I occasionally write for, pitched in during the final push to help the Sierra Club of/du Canada convince B.C. Premier Gordon Browne to see the agreement through to completion. Looks like it worked.

There is, of course, talk of oil drilling offshore of the forest.

animals, competition, photography

Most Viewed Photo? No Contest.

I should have seen it coming. Will Smith had about 5 months to crawl to the top of my “most viewed” list on Flickr. He did it in the course of a day. Su Lin the panda has had about 4 days so far, and she beat Will in one day. It looks like it will be tough to catch up to her (though my Flickr view numbers are modest compared to many others):

Plus, “Su Lin exploring” is my most interesting photo, according to Flickr. I’m not sure how Flickr measures interestingness, and they aren’t really telling. It’s a mystery, reminiscent of Google’s page ranking system.

But Su Lin was so interesting that she made it onto Flickr’s Interestingness Calendar on February 2 as the third most interesting photo uploaded onto Flickr that day.

animals, competition, photography

It appears that I need to shoot more baby animals.

Despite my best efforts, people really just want to see photographs of furry, fuzzy baby animals.

Sure, I could take a decent San Francisco picture,

or one of some people on the street,

or careless boaters with a tangled anchor,

or flying octopi.

But I woke up this Thursday morning to find that 25 people viewed the photo of a baby panda I uploaded the night before, and I didn’t even have to do anything to get them there. They just showed up. (As of this writing, it’s up to 111.)

I’m no Flickr celebrity like Thomas Hawk (whom Fleshbot and the NY Times have mentioned), so I consider myself lucky when 5 or 6 people look at a photo after I’ve told them about it or shared it on groups.

But one has to admit that Su Lin is cute, and fun to watch.

Maybe she’ll overtake Will Smith (king at 246 views as of this writing) in the top spot of Most Viewed Photo. Click on her picture to help. Could be good.