While EBM approaches have been developed for landscapes and regions throughout the world, the approach for the Great Bear Rainforest was tailor-made for the region by an independent group of scientists. Scientists produced a framework and a handbook to guide development and implementation of EBM defining EBM as: "An adaptive approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities. The intent is to maintain those spatial and temporal characteristics of ecosystems such that component species and ecological processes can be sustained, and human wellbeing supported and improved."
Wherever development occurs in the Great Bear Rainforest it is subject to ecosystem-based management (EBM) rules and guidance governing resource use in the region include the following:
- Achieve high degrees of ecological integrity by achieving low risk to ecosystems over time and a range of ecological values including old growth forests, streams, rivers and wildlife habitat. Based on the best available information, a key measure of ecological integrity is maintaining, across the region, 70 percent of the natural variation of ecosystems over time. An interim moderate risk regional target of 50 percent of the natural variation of ecosystems has been established in laws governing forest development.
- Achieve high degrees of human and community wellbeing through innovative investments such as the Coast Opportunity Funds, fostering viable commercial forestry operations and other forms of development and focusing economic development and employment opportunities within local communities.
- Establish an adaptive management framework to inform future decisions related to ecological integrity and human wellbeing.
- Use adaptive management and detailed planning to achieve desired conservation and development goals.
- Protect cultural values and features throughout the region.
- Respect the rights and interests of First Nations, communities, businesses and others with a stake in the region.
Fully implementing EBM takes time. In 2009, the interim moderate ecological risk threshold was reached. In 2016 EBM has been fully implemented, thereby achieving low ecological risk and high degrees of human wellbeing in the Great Bear Rainforest.