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Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

After nearly ten years of debate, the government of British Columbia has bestowed new protections on a vast stretch of forest along the province's coast called the Great Bear Rainforest. With enthusiastic endorsements from an unusual cross-section of interested parties, including native populations, the forestry industry, and environmental groups, the plan helps preserve the ecological bounty of almost 25,000 square miles (65,000 square kilometers) of wilderness—an area roughly the size of West Virginia.

The unusual consensus in support of the plan involved award-winning collaboration between forestry businesses and environmental organizations, as well as cooperation among dozens of native populations. Recognizing people as an important part of the ecosystem, the priorities include building new economic models that leave a lighter footprint on the land. The end result is a plan that sets out to protect the most precious habitats, while selectively allowing resource-based industries and tourism to operate elsewhere in a way that minimizes their impact on the ecosystem.

Home to a globally significant expanse of temperate rainforest, the region supports an array of native species including western red cedar, salmon, and bald eagles. It is also the primary home to a rare bear called the Kermode bear, or spirit bear, recently adopted as the province's official mammal. Sometimes mistaken for a polar bear or presumed to be an albino because of its white fur, the bear is actually a genetic variation of a black bear. Legend says the ghostly coloration of the white bears is a reminder of the time when ice covered the Earth.

—Brad Scriber