The government of British Columbia, Canada, announced a historic deal Monday to protect a huge area of ancient rainforest from logging, development and hunting.
Eighty-five percent of the Great Bear Rainforest — 6.4 million hectares (15.8 million acres) of British Columbia's Pacific Coast — will be preserved, while the rest would be open to logging and timber companies.
But that logging would be carried out under what environmentalists call the most stringent standards in place for commercial logging anywhere in North America.
The deal came after more than 20 years of tough negotiations between the government, environmentalists, the timber industry and 26 Aboriginal groups who call themselves First Nations.
"Ecosystem-based management is the modern term which describes what we have and always believed and practiced — if we use our traditional knowledge to take care of our lands, waters and resources, they will take care of us," Coastal First Nationals Chief Marilyn Slett said Monday.
The agreement also bans commercial grizzly bear hunts and hunting for rare bear species.
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark called the Great Bear Rainforest "a jewel in the crown of magnificent landscapes."