The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
Local Pathways to Global Wellbeing
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 20 to June 24, 2005
Can Human Wellbeing Improve while Ecosystem Integrity is
Maintained in British Columbia's Coastal Rainforests?
Since Canada's ecological footprint is large, without attendant levels of happiness, achieving Ecosystem Based Management wellbeing goal in the Great Bear Rainforest will require that Canadian norms of economic performance not be used by residents as a reference point.
The Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) is the world's largest intact, unprotected coastal temperate rainforest, with 1000-year-old cedars, salmon runs, and grizzly bears. First Nations, already impacted by colonization, technological change, and industrial resource extraction, currently experience social distress, poverty and unemployment. Remote communities struggle with economic relevance in a globalized economy. The GBR's most productive ecosystems with the best timber have already been logged. Logs are shipped unprocessed, providing scant local jobs and benefits. First Nations have clamoured for change, ENGOs have protested environmental damage, and logging companies face marketplace pressure to address sustainability.
Since 2001, the provincial and local First Nations governments, as well as logging companies and environmental organizations, have collaborated on an Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) approach to land and resource use. EBM seeks to maintain ecosystem integrity and improve human wellbeing. If EBM succeeds in protecting the GBR's conservation values, conservation financing and socially responsible investment capital will flow, aiding economic diversification.
The Rainforest Solutions Project collaborates in efforts to understand, measure and improve wellbeing on the coast. Although GBR residents seek increased employment and income levels, wellbeing is not equated with GDP measures, but is increasingly understood to be linked to ecosystem integrity, equity, sound institutions and cultural renewal. Since Canada's ecological footprint is large, without attendant levels of happiness, achieving EBM's wellbeing goal in the GBR will require that Canadian norms of economic performance not be used by residents as a reference point.
Tom Green, M.A. (Ecological Economics)
Rainforest Solutions Project
(A Project of the Sage Centre)
Suite 715, 850 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC Canada V6C 1E1
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