History & Achievements

Thursday, February 5, 2009 (All day)

When the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (later shortened to the Wilderness Committee) was founded in British Columbia in 1980, there was little information available to the public on Canadian wilderness and wildlife issues. Our mission was focused on researching, publishing and distributing
information about threatened Canadian wilderness and wildlife in order to build broad public support for their preservation.

More than 30 years later, we are very proud of what we have accomplished. We measure success in five areas: wilderness areas protected from industrial development, public education, research, legal precedents and innovative tactics.

 

Our successes: protected areas

The Wilderness Committee has played a role in helping achieve protection for the following areas:

Our public education
  • The Wilderness Committee has published and distributed over 188 editions of free educational newspapers (over 13 million copies in total), 43 calendars, numerous books,  posters, videos, technical briefs, research documents and maps.
  • We have developed hundreds of lectures, slide shows, briefs and presentations for public hearings, government meetings, schools and public events reaching over 100,000 people each year in different speaking engagements.
  • Supported the international, cross-cultural Rediscovery Program, based on traditional native values, by publishing the book Rediscovery: Ancient Pathways--New Directions. This book is used by outdoor educators and in Rediscovery camps around the world.
Our research achievements
  • In 1990, we established world's first upper-canopy, temperate rainforest research station. Research at our station led scientists to revise the number of insect species existing in Canada from approximately 33,000 to 66,000.
  • We’ve mapped remaining tracts of wilderness and the logging plans for them on Vancouver Island. This mapping and the science of conservation biology were used to develop a Conservation Vision calling for protecting 40% of B.C.'s land base in order to save biodiversity. This is equivalent to Alaska's protected area system. Our Conservation Vision has been endorsed by numerous other major B.C. environment groups.
  • Our mapping department conducts exhaustive research on issues pertaining to wildlife, wilderness, and First Nations title and rights. This mapping work has been instrumental in saving large tracts of wilderness and wildlife habitat. Our Endangered Wilderness and Wildlife Calendars include detailed maps of areas threatened by logging, and the routes and habitats of species at risk.
Our legal precedents
  • Prevented predator control (wolf kill) in northeast British Columbia. This case established the right of environment groups to have hearing on environmental issues in court.
  • Halted falcon chick capture on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
  • Guaranteed public access to crown lands under tree farm licences (Carmanah trail-building case).
  • Stopped logging in Greater Victoria's drinking watershed.
  • Stopped a back room deal by the Alberta government cabinet to guarantee compensation to a large forest company should the company's application for a Forest Management Agreement over a huge tract of boreal forest wilderness be turned down by the legislature (thus prejudicing the legislature's ability to freely decide on the application).
  • With the support of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, the Wilderness Committee established a legal precedent by overturning a "bubble zone" injunction commonly used by logging companies to prevent public access to large swaths of crown lands (Elaho Valley case).
  • With the support of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, the Wilderness Committee established a legal precedent by successfully seeking an injunction to prevent imminent logging in Spotted Owl habitat (Siwash Creek case).
Our innovative tactics
  • The Wilderness Committee has surveyed and cleared wilderness trails (a unique campaign strategy) in imminently threatened wilderness areas, including Meares Island, the Stein Valley, Carmanah Valley, the Boise Valley, Clayoquot Valley, Flores Island and the Stoltmann Wilderness. These trails have kept logging at bay while providing access for scientists, photographers and wilderness activists. In a unique effort to help train and educate youth in trail building and eco-tourism, the Wilderness Committee partnered with Ahousaht First Nations in a Youth Services Canada-funded project to survey and build an 11 km long hiking route, the Ahousaht Wild Side Heritage Trail.
  • Through the initiative of its founder, Paul George, the Wilderness Committee was the first group to pursue a citizen referendum under B.C.'s new Recall and Initiative legislation. The initiative sought to ban the hunting and greatly increase the penalties for poaching of bears in B.C. In the 2001 the government announced a 3-year moratorium on the sport/trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears which was subsequently overturned by the new Liberal government.
  • Our international WILD campaign helped produce, in support of local conservation groups, a set of maps of remaining wilderness areas which were instrumental in prompting government action to protect natural ecosystems and indigenous homelands in several Latin American countries. The Wilderness Committee also helped organize and manage the 1990 world tour of Sarawak natives, Voices for the Borneo Rainforest, publishing a book and an educational newspaper to accompany the world tour. In the period 1998 – 2001, we worked actively with Tiger Trust India to educate people in India and Canada of the plight of the Asian Tiger...more
Awards we have received
  • Government of British Columbia: 1990 Environmental Achievement Award (most effective B.C. environmental group)
  • Book Awards: Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award - 1990 and Roderick Haig-Brown Award (1990) for Carmanah - Artistic Visions of an Ancient Rainforest
  • Environment Canada: 1991 Environmental Achievement Award (most effective environmental group)
  • Video Awards: Two gold medals at the 1992 New York International Film Festival for the Faceless Ones
  • Manitoba Eco-Network Award: Achievement in Protection and Awareness of Manitoba’s Environment 2005
  • Environmental Printing Awards (2009): Gold Award for Most Progressive Environmental Printing Project (with Metropolitan Fine Printers) - 2009 Western Canada Endangered Wilderness calendar  .

    AWARDS WE HAVE GIVEN TO OTHERS

    Eugene Rogers Award