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Deal protects Canada rainforest from logging

British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest has been largely protected from logging in a landmark agreement between aboriginals, forest companies, environmental groups and the government.

Premier Christy Clark said the deal, 20 years in the making, will protect 85% of the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, located about 435 miles from Vancouver.

The Great Bear Rainforest, stretching from the Discovery Islands northwards to Alaska, is 16 million acres, and more than half the region is covered by ancient forests.

The agreement ensures 7.7 million acres of the forests are permanently off limits to logging.

Environmentalist Richard Brooks said 95% of the area was open to logging 20 years ago, but protests, blockades and ensuing negotiations resulted in the landmark agreement.

Twenty six aboriginal tribes, environmental groups, coastal forest companies and the government reached the agreement. It is the territory of 26 aboriginal tribes.

Coast Forest Products Association chief executive officer Rick Jeffery said the deal involved complex talks between groups with opposing points of view, but compromise and success was achieved over time.

"'It's unprecedented in the history of our province," he said. "It's a unique solution for a unique area.".

The agreement also ends the commercial grizzly bear hunt and protects habitat for the marbled murrelet, northern goshawk and mountain goat.

The area was officially named the Great Bear Rainforest by then-premier Gordon Campbell in 2006.

Environmentalists had given the area the name years before that in an effort to protect the central coast from logging.

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