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'Devastating': Park board commissioners tour urban logging operation in Stanley Park


On Thursday, Vancouver Park Board commissioners saw firsthand the massive logging operation now underway in Stanley Park, as crews continue to cut down tens of thousands of hemlock trees killed by a years-long looper moth infestation.

“It’s been devastating what we saw today,” said Commissioner Tom Digby. “The urban forestry team took us through the major logging that’s been going on here for the last four months. And just to see the amount of trees that have come down is absolutely devastating.”

It's estimated 160,000 trees, or 30 per cent of the park, will have to be cut down in the next five years. The park board decided leaving the dead hemlocks standing would be risky, as they could fall on people as they decay.

“In five to 10 years you would have a lot of trees debris, branches and trees falling, and then the park would have to close a lot of trails because they would become too dangerous,” said

Richard Hamelin, the department head for UBC Forest Conservation Sciences. “There are so many people people in the park all year round really, they decided to go the safety route which is to remove the trees, so that they don’t become a danger.”

The dead trees are also being taken down to reduce forest fire risk.

“Wildfire is completely unpredictable, I mean ask the people up in Kelowna,” said Digby. “We just overall reduce the fire load, the fuel load, and that makes us all safer.”

The highly visible tree removal in a park considered to be Vancouver’s crown jewel has its detractors. An online petition asking the park board to halt the logging has gathered over 16,500 signatures. Hamelin thinks the city is partly to blame for not explaining that the trees are dead and have to be cut down.

“They kind of left it to social media to judge what’s happening and whether it’s good or bad. I think they should have put up signs explaining this is an outbreak of a natural insect killing a lot of the trees in Stanley Park, and we need to take these actions. Because then a lot of people would understand. They kind of left it open, and now they’re paying for it,” said Hamelin.

There is a plan to replace the dead hemlock. Starting next week, 25,000 new seedlings will be planted in the park.

“The hemlock were doomed species in this space, the hemlock looper always gets them. But now we have chance to bring in Douglas fir and cedar and red alder to help provide nutrients for the soil, so this is actually a big transition for this park,” said Digby.

“I think we are going to be looking at maybe four to five years and the park will be green again,” said Hamelin. “Forests are resilient. It’s going to come back, and it’s going to come back stronger and better. That’s what nature does.” Top Stories


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