Celebrate the Forest!

It’s International Day of Forests, or World Forestry Day, on March 21. Celebrate Canada’s greatest urban forest with a walk through Stanley Park. Before you go, here’s some interesting information about this forest on our doorstep:

Stanley Park’s forest not only looks magnificent, it’s a rare habitat. 150 years ago the whole of the Lower Mainland would have been covered by lowland forest, but the rapid growth of Vancouver has led to much of this being cleared. Stanley Park is one of the few areas of coastal rainforest that remains.

The forests on the North Shore may look similar but they are very different habitats. Stanley Park is a lowland rainforest made up primarily of Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock with a few Sitka spruce trees. Of course under the canopy of trees are a wealth of interesting plants, many of which don’t flourish at higher elevations. Birds and animals that are common in the Park also aren’t found higher up the mountains.

Douglas squirrel in Stanley Park (Photo: Michael Schmidt)

Even the Park itself isn’t one forest, it’s a mixture of different habitats. Old growth trees, that’s trees that have never been logged, are very rare in the park but a few still remain. Most of our forest is second or third growth, younger trees, although they are still huge. You can often tell whether an area is second growth by the stumps of trees logged many years ago amongst the trees. These stumps can actually perform an important function as a nursery for new saplings. Then there are the areas of mixed woodland that come from human planting and landscaping as well as scrubby habitats at forest edges. While this isn’t a pristine forest (it shows its long history of human interference), it is a rich and varied habitat. It is a tribute to the adaptability of nature that one of Canada’s largest heron colonies flourishes above Stanley Park’s tennis courts and that beavers can make a home in the managed waters of Lost Lagoon.

For naturalist-led tours through the Stanley Park forest, check out our Events Calendar at http://stanleyparkecology.ca/events/